My heart sank…. is there a better way?

April 18, 2017 by Sue McArthur

A Better Way…

How disheartened I was recently to see a headline in a local newspaper bemoaning the “cut throat lawyers who are milking vulnerable divorcing couples”. I know that there is a better way to deal with vulnerable people looking to divorce.

It saddens me greatly that we might all be tarred with the same brush.  I wonder how we might let some of our divorcing couples know that there can and is help and support available from professionals who are members of Resolution and who are required to conduct matters in a constructive and non confrontational way. Encouraging clients to put the best interests of their children first and ensuring that consideration is given to balancing the benefits of any steps against the likely costs, whether those be financial or emotional.

How can we explain to clients the true value and importance of collaborative family lawyers helping them and their separating partner to work together to resolve issues which inevitably arise when couples separate?

The collaborative approach involves each selecting a collaboratively trained lawyer to represent them.  All the work is done around the table in a series of 4 way meetings and the couple and their lawyers sign up to not going to court.  The process enables the couple to set the agenda, ensuring that there are no behind the scenes negotiations and removes aggressive correspondence between lawyers and reduces misunderstandings.

Inevitably, unexpectedly high bills are responsible for sour client – solicitor relationships.  Clients need realistic costs estimates, which include the possibility of complications, which may develop in a case.  Clients are entitled to know how bad things can get before embarking on a course of litigation and this is particularly so when they are considering a choice between litigation, mediation, collaborative or any other process.

Separation is a painful and messy business.  Clients need to “own their case” and consider what is important, upsetting and pleasing to them and why and how matters might be managed. Most clients want to be fair and virtually all of them want their children to be as unharmed as possible.

Couples need to find a civilised way of resolving issues on separation – a better way.

I sincerely hope that the collaborative process and mediation will mean that those headlines, all too apparent in newspaper headlines, are not seen again and that instead we might hear of someone who has taken part in a positive process at one of the most difficult times of their lives.

Ailsa Gilhespy

David Gray Solicitors