Two senior lawyers at Wards Solicitors have recently completed their training as Collaborative Family Lawyers. Alison Bradley of the firm’s Broad Street office and Louise Boustead of Yate join partner, Philip Simon, (a family lawyer at the firm’s Staple Hill office) as specialists in the collaborative approach to divorce and separation.
With an estimated one in three UK marriages ending in court, the divorce process for many can be long-winded, costly, stressful and full of conflict. Collaborative family law is a relatively recent approach, devised to take the heat out of divorce and separation. It is an alternative to traditional divorce, and avoids going to court, using mediation to minimise conflict.
Collaborative lawyers sign an agreement with the client which prevents them from representing their clients in court if the collaborative process breaks down. This means that the lawyers are committed to helping the clients find the best solution to issues relating to children, finances and the like, by agreement, rather than through conflict.
The collaborative approach means that clients have more control over the process, including timing and pacing, as the client sets the pace and is not governed by court dates or timetables.
The process provides three significant benefits: it is a private process, it is less adversarial than going to court and therefore less anxiety-ridden and the outcome is often fairer for both parties.
Alison Bradley says: “Talking problems through can seem impossible at the outset, but the collaborative process makes this possible and almost always the best solutions for the client are those that they work out for themselves”.