The Collaborative Divorce

For clients contemplating divorce or separation there are many ways of resolving issues, by involving the courts, mediation or choosing the collaborative approach.

There is no right or wrong way but it is important to do what is right for you and for many, where there is no domestic violence or overbearing conduct on the part of one of the parties and in circumstances where they are still able to talk together in the same room, litigation may not be the answer, particularly if a level of trust remains.

The litigation process can often be seen as corrosive due to its adversarial nature making it more difficult to resolve issues. Some feel that mediation is a good alternative to litigation. Our long experience at Bishop & Sewell suggests that this approach is most successful when both parties are independently advised by a lawyer outside the mediation meetings so that when they attend mediation they have a good understanding of the issues and realistic expectations of what can be achieved, as the mediator, although often legally qualified, cannot advise either party on the law.

Michael Gillman at Bishop & Sewell was trained as a mediator by Professor John Haynes who was a leading authority on alternative dispute resolution and taught at the School of Social Welfare at Stonybrook University in New York from 1972 until 1985 and, in the process, Michael gained valuable insight into the mediation process. Michael also trained as a Collaborative Lawyer in 2007 and is accredited by Resolution to conduct cases collaboratively.

What is the Collaborative Process?

The Collaborative Process is still a relatively novel way of achieving resolution by communication rather than confrontation and has many advantages for clients who are prepared to engage in the process, enabling them to understand the other party’s point of view with both parties owning the ultimate solution that is achieved. The process can be used to find solutions for part or all of the issues that might arise on separation or divorce ranging from children, money and other issues.

How the Collaborative Process works

Both parties select a collaboratively trained lawyer to represent them. The lawyers and clients then sign a collaborative agreement which sets out how the negotiations will be conducted which states, amongst other things:

  • That the parties will endeavour to resolve all issues without going to court;
  • If the process breaks down the Collaborative Lawyers will take no further part in any future proceedings;
  • Setting out how the Collaborative Process will work so that all parties are bound to the process and agree to deal with the issues in a collaborative way.

The work within the Collaborative Process in undertaken within a series of 4-way round table meetings, with the lawyers setting the agendas for such meetings. The parties are then guided through the process with the lawyers setting out all the issues to be determined, arranging for any information required to be disclosed in an orderly manner and emphasising the points that need to be considered and that are important for their respective clients so that the parties can gain a better understanding of the others point of view.

The lawyers discuss the issues with the parties and move the process along to a conclusion and advise on what further advice may be required from other professionals/experts whether they be valuers, accountants, independent financial advisors, barristers etc along the way.

When agreement has been reached, the lawyers will assist the parties by putting the agreement into effect and obtain the necessary court orders.

If you feel that the Collaborative Process may be right for you or if you would like to receive further information in relation to the same, then please contact Michael Gillman who will be more than happy to discuss the process further with you.

The benefits for you and your family could be many including:

  • Privacy
  • A non-adversarial approach
  • A reduction in the stress that would be experienced in the litigation process
  • The solution is fair and right for both you and your family

The solution is reached through conversation rather than conflict.

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