A team of Woolley & Co lawyers explain to Dave Harries at Communicate TV the alternatives you might consider to resolve disagreements during the divorce process.
Dave Harries: I imagine in a typical divorce there are often going to be seriously difficult issues to resolve between the parties, so what are the sort of methods you can use as lawyers to help that and to reach the resolution, Tamara what is your experience of that?
Tamara Glanvill: Well there are a range of solutions and one size doesn’t fit all but one of the solutions that I can offer as a collaborative lawyer is to help clients reach an agreement between themselves – be that around the table, without lawyers, be that with a lawyer between them mediating or, perhaps with a collaborative model where they have two lawyers in the room, two clients and we agree at the outset that we are going to reach a solution together without going to Court and we commit to doing that. That is a very useful model that allows the parties to both be able to listen to one another, understand what their respective concerns are and move towards a solution with the help of the solicitors present.
Dave Harries: And Kate, presumably that sort of collaborative approach won’t always work so what other methods are there.
Kate Butler: One of things that we encourage all clients to try is a process called mediation. The idea of mediation is to help parties that have fallen into difficulties to learn to communicate with each other again. I think it is widely accepted that a solution that the parties reach themselves is better than one that is imposed on them by, for example, a Court or somebody making the decision for them.
Family mediation is not for everybody, there are other newer ways to try and address things, one of those is called arbitration which is a very similar to a process in commercial disputes where you effectively buy the role of a Judge; somebody that the parties select, who then decides the case for them. Sometimes people need that decision making to happen – and that can of course be what happens when you go to Court.
Dave Harries: And Judith, what about that – going to Court, is it very much a last resort do you think?
Judith Buckland: It is really, because most people will have at least tried mediation, but as Kate says, with the best will in the world, it is not for everybody and it sometimes just doesn’t work. I think it is important to understand that even if you do end up in Court, the process is still very much geared up towards encouraging you to reach a settlement whether that is by the lawyers who are representing each party, or indeed by the Judge. It is perfectly possible to reach an agreement even within the room of the Court actually, without having to go to a full trial. But ultimately, yes there are cases where you just can’t reach an agreement, you can’t settle and do have to be decided by the Court.