Navigating the Divorce Process: Choosing Between Divorce Solicitors, the Collaborative Process and Mediation | Woollcombe Yonge
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Navigating the Divorce Process: Choosing Between Divorce Solicitors, the Collaborative Process and Mediation

Divorce is a challenging and emotionally taxing experience for anyone involved. When going through a divorce, it is crucial to make informed decisions about the legal process. In this blog post, we will explore three approaches to divorce: hiring divorce solicitors, opting for the collaborative process, and engaging in mediation. By understanding these options, individuals can choose the path that aligns best with their unique circumstances and priorities.

Divorce solicitors: Guiding you through legalities

Divorce solicitors are legal professionals specialising in family law who offer invaluable guidance and representation throughout the divorce process and are an essential part of any divorce which goes through the court. They have extensive knowledge of divorce laws, procedures as well as local court systems. Hiring a divorce solicitor can be particularly beneficial when complex legal issues such as child custody, property division or spousal support need to be addressed.

Working with a divorce solicitor involves providing them with all relevant information and documents, enabling them to build a strong case on your behalf. They will handle communication with your spouse’s solicitor, negotiate settlements, and represent your interests in court, if necessary. A divorce solicitor ensures that your rights are protected and that you receive a fair outcome.

Who is divorce litigation suitable for?

Taking legal action by hiring a divorce solicitor is for those cases where communication has broken down and trust lost between the two parties and an amicable divorce is not an option.

What are the benefits of using a divorce solicitor?

• You need not have any contact with your ex-partner – your solicitor will contact their solicitor.
• If you feel they are trying to gain control over more than their fair share, a legal arrangement may be the only way forward.
• The process is more succinct, needs to adhere to strict time constraints from the courts and, therefore, can be less time consuming than more collaborative options with no time limit.

The collaborative process: A cooperative approach

What is collaborative law?

The collaborative process, also known as collaborative divorce or collaborative law, offers an alternative to traditional litigation (involving solicitors and court proceedings) and mediation (which you can read more about below). The collaborative divorce process is a voluntary and cooperative approach that encourages spouses to work together to reach mutually beneficial agreements without going to court. Each party hires a collaboratively trained divorce solicitor, so you work with your own lawyer in four way meetings and all commit to open communication and respectful negotiation.

Collaborative lawyers undergo specialist collaborative law training are fully trained in all aspects of family law. Collaboratively trained lawyers assist their clients in navigating the process while fostering a non-adversarial environment. The respective lawyers focus on finding creative solutions that meet the needs of both parties, including issues such as child custody, visitation, asset division, and financial support. This approach promotes cooperation, reduces conflict, and emphasizes the well-being of any children involved.

As well as communication with a collaborative divorce lawyer, the collaborative divorce process often involves interdisciplinary collaboration with additional professionals, such as a family consultant, financial advisors or child specialists, joining the team to provide guidance in specific areas. By working together in a respectful and transparent manner, the collaborative process empowers couples to maintain control over their divorce decisions, rather than leaving them in the hands of a judge.

Who is collaborative divorce suitable for?

A collaborative divorce is suitable for those wanting to cooperate but where legal advice is necessary in order to reach an agreement. Both sides need to be willing, trusting and respectful in order for collaborative family law to work, with neither side having more control over the other. It simply will not work where there is no communication or trust between the two parties, a traditional divorce route involving litigation would be the best way forward if this is the case.

 What are the benefits of the collaborative process?

There are many advantages to working with collaborative lawyers though:

• Less confrontational than a traditional court process.
• Can be more cost effective than going to court.
• Paves the way for a more collaborative future, especially important where children are involved.
• You have more control of dispute resolution.
• The process is more succinct, needs to adhere to strict time constraints from the courts and, therefore, can be more focussed.

Family Mediation: Facilitating Open Dialogue

Mediation offers divorcing couples an opportunity to work together with the help of a neutral third party, known as a mediator, to reach agreements outside of court. Unlike divorce solicitors or collaborative divorce lawyers, mediators do not usually provide legal advice and therefore do not need to be legally trained (although some, like our very own Will Giles, are). Instead, they facilitate open and constructive dialogue, enabling spouses to identify common ground and resolve disputes.

During mediation sessions, the mediator helps spouses communicate effectively, explore various options, and find mutually acceptable solutions. They remain impartial and do not advise or make decisions on behalf of either party.

Who is mediation suitable for?

Mediation is particularly beneficial when couples are committed to finding amicable resolutions and maintaining a positive post-divorce relationship. An initial meeting will help you decide whether mediation is for you and subsequent meetings are used to help you come to your own agreements. Our blog on the barriers to mediation will help you to see where mediation may not be suitable, for example if one party is not forthcoming about their finances.

What are the benefits of mediation?

There are many benefits of mediation; it is cost effective as well as being more flexible and much less formal than traditional divorce processes, allowing both parties to take things at their own pace.

Knowing which is the right option for you

Choosing the right approach to divorce is essential for a smoother, more satisfactory process. Whether you decide to hire divorce solicitors, opt for the collaborative process or engage in mediation, each approach offers unique benefits suited to different situations.

Divorce solicitors provide legal expertise, ensuring your rights are protected and advocating for your best interests. The collaborative process promotes cooperation, fostering an environment where couples can work together to find mutually agreeable solutions. Mediation focuses on open dialogue and allows couples to maintain control over the outcome while preserving their relationship.

It’s important to consult with professionals experienced in divorce law to determine which approach aligns best with your specific circumstances and priorities. By making an informed decision, you can navigate the divorce process with greater confidence and work towards a more positive post-divorce future.

If you reach agreement in mediation, you will need a solicitor to prepare an order reflecting the agreement, known as a consent order. This is sent to a Judge for approval.

Our family law team here at Woollcombe Yonge are experts in divorce and family law. William Giles is a family law solicitor, mediator and collaborative Practitioner with Woollcombe Yonge Solicitors Plymouth, our mediation practice is known as WY Mediation.  For an initial free discussion with Will please telephone him on (01752) 660384.

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