For too long, the options available to couples who needed legal support to navigate their way through a separation was limited to litigation and costly drawn-out court proceedings.
Over time though, the landscape for these couples has evolved and the legal support they require can now be tailored to match with their intentions to achieve a ‘good divorce.’
The knee jerk reaction to issue court proceedings is not as prevalent as it once was, and more often than not, couples are looking for a way to separate on a more amicable basis. Whether you want to call it ‘conscious un-coupling’ like Gyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, or a ‘Good Divorce’ (a phrase which came into its own after the popular TV Drama ‘The Split’) there has definitely been a shift in the desires of couples separating, with an emphasis on less fight, more talk.
Many family solicitors now can offer a wide range of options to couples, including mediation, collaborative law, round table meetings, early neutral evaluation hearings, arbitration and so forth. The emphasis on all of these options is ultimately to avoid court and to promote considerate communication and maintain an amicable relationship, which is particularly beneficial when there are children involved.
By working collaboratively with other professionals, such as mediators, financial planners, therapists, family consultants and divorce coaches, couples are much better placed than ever before to avoid the drama linked with ‘having their day in court.’
One couple, one lawyer
Following long over-due changes to the divorce laws in England and Wales, which culminated in the introduction of the ‘no fault divorce’, a select number of family solicitors across England and Wales are also now able to offer couples joint advice in a ‘one couple, one lawyer’ model. Historically, separating couples would each turn to their own solicitor for advice, and a more traditional court-led approach would then follow. Whilst this is fine for some, there are those couples who are looking for a more amicable solution.
The approach is available to separating couples who share a common intention in respect of their separation and who wish to engage in amicable discussions together to resolve matters and move forward. The solicitor instructed will be on hand to facilitate discussions and provide advice to the couple together in respect of their options and likely outcomes. Working with financial planners and other professionals, the solicitor can aid the couple in reaching a fair and appropriate agreement, which they are both comfortable with, that can then be incorporated into a court order.
This new approach promotes amicable relationships post separation and reduces the risk of litigation and any lasting impact this may have on children. Couples benefit from choosing any professionals from whom they are seeking advice together (be it legal, financial, therapeutic etc).
In addition, they often find that there is a significant financial saving as the couple only incurs one solicitor’s fees, as opposed to the more traditional approach in which they each pay for their separate solicitors.
Of course, as with any approach, there is no ‘one size that fits all’ and this will not be suitable for all couples, for example, if there is any conflict or unwillingness to engage in the process. Equally, if there is any evidence of abuse or coercion, the ‘one couple, one lawyer’ approach would not be suitable. However, for many, it could prove to be an invaluable solution.
Be it a traditional approach, mediation, collaborative law, ‘one couple, one lawyer’, early neutral evaluation hearings or arbitration; the options now seem boundless for separating couples. Knights are delighted to be able to offer separating couples the opportunity to explore all of these options in order to establish which route best works for them when separating.