Legal advice from Ruth Hetherington, a family law partner at FDR Law on keeping divorce friendly
Q: My husband and I are separating and want to keep the process as amicable as possible for the sake of our two children. Do we have to go to court?
A: Separation and divorce can be a hurtful and upsetting time for everyone involved. You don’t have to go to court to sort out your affairs after you split up. In fact, it’s much better for your family if you can keep the whole process as friendly as possible and make appropriate arrangements without the need for a judge.
If you and your husband broadly agree on how you wish to divide your assets and care for the children but require a little extra professional help to negotiate a settlement, collaborative law may be the way forward.
Under the collaborative process, each person appoints their own collaboratively- trained lawyer, and you and your respective lawyers all meet together to work things out face to face. This means both you and your husband would have your own lawyer by your side throughout the process to advise and guide you.
Each of you would meet with your own legal representative first to discuss your objectives before arranging a ‘four way’ meeting. Everyone should come to the table motivated to find an agreement. A suitable settlement is sometimes achieved after only a couple of meetings but more usually the whole process can take four or five sessions to reach an agreement that all parties are happy with.
I am a collaboratively-trained lawyer and over the years I have seen many couples minimise the fall-out of divorce by choosing options other than traditional court proceedings. There is absolutely no need for a split to result in a damaging courtroom battle and both of you will find it much easier to re-build your lives if you have kept negotiations amicable.
I work with clients to resolve a wide range of family issues and disputes. For a free initial discussion, contact me on 01928 739300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.