If you cannot agree on arrangements for where your child should live, you should consider attending mediation before applying to the courts.
Mediation is not appropriate if you have experienced domestic violence, if you have a disability, or have English as a second language.
Another alternative is Collaborative Law which is about making key decisions about your future all together in the same room, face to face.
Mediation is a confidential way for you to arrive at fair, long lasting arrangements, thus reducing the pain and trauma associated with separation or divorce.
With the help of an impartial mediator, or pair of mediators, you can safely air your differences and constructively arrive at financial settlements and arrangements for children that you as a couple choose and work out, rather than having judges or lawyers making decisions for you.
Mediators do not give legal advice and do not represent individuals, although mediators can be solicitors or other professionals who deal with families. When proposals are reached, a summary is drawn up by the mediator(s) which each of you will take to your own solicitor who will consider whether to turn it into a legally binding agreement, and also take care of any other legal formalities such as the divorce itself.
How much does it cost?
If you are eligible for public funding (formerly legal aid) then you maybe entitled to free mediation. Our solicitors can advise on the costs and benefits of mediation based on your individual situation; and we can also make referrals to mediation providers such as Devon Family Solutions Ltd, located in Longbrook Street in Exeter.
Collaborative law is fairly new to the UK and is fundamentally changing the way people think about family law. For couples that genuinely seek a fair solution, and want to minimise the pain of family breakdown, it may offer the best way ahead.
What is collaborative law?
At its simplest, collaborative law is about making key decisions about your future all together in the same room, face to face. You agree not go to court and your collaborative lawyers sign an agreement with you that disqualify them from representing you in court if the process breaks down. This means they are absolutely committed to helping you find the best solutions by agreement, rather than conflict.
- You set the agenda, so you talk about the things that matter most to you and your family.
- You set the pace because you are not governed by court dates and appearances.
- Your children will cope better with your separation if they see that you are working together.
- The decisions are yours – they are not made by a stranger in the courtroom.
How to make it work
You must have a genuine desire to make it work, be willing to disclose information about all assets and maintain regular contact with your former partner. Rather than communicating through your solicitors, you work with them to reach the best solutions for you and your family.
How much does it cost?
Collaborative law can be cheaper than the conventional way of instructing solicitors because you use less of your solicitor’s time.
How to find a collaborative lawyer
There are only about two hundred and fifty lawyers in the UK trained to take this collaborative route, and these lawyers utilise their skills in client representation, negotiation and problem solving to help their clients shape a fair agreement.