True collaboration: a better way

The spirit of collaboration was alive and well in Leeds last night when a group of people, all committed to helping separating couples resolve issues without going to court, met to answer questions from lawyers and others about different ways of helping people through a divorce.

Those ways include:

Family arbitration

Lyn Ayrton of Lake Legal, a qualified and experienced family arbitrator, explained how arbitration can help couples who are finding it difficult to reach agreement on a particular issue by agreeing to allow an arbitrator to impose a solution on them, and committing to abide by it. Lyn explained that voluntarily asking an arbitrator to make these decisions can allow couples to reach a resolution far more quickly than waiting for a court date for a judge to rule on their case.

Collaborative law

Collaborative family lawyer, Philip Way of Mills and Reeve, outlined the collaborative process - where each person instructs a qualified collaborative lawyer and they discuss the issues together to reach legally binding agreements. He explained  how a collaborative approach  encourages separating couples to focus on the things that are most important to them - which is very often their children - and put their interests at the heart of negotiations.

Mediation

Anne Braithwaite of AB Mediation Chambers talked about family mediation, where a qualified and impartial mediator helps couples negotiate face-to-face to reach agreement on future arrangements for their children, property and finances.

Working together

What we found refreshing was the way in which everyone involved was at pains to point out that these processes don't have to work in isolation, and that it's possible, for example, for family arbitrators to help couples get past a particular sticking point in a collaborative case without the whole process breaking down and having to resort to a court to impose a decision.

So if you or somebody you know is going through a separation, don't assume that court is the only option. There is a better way.

This week (24-29 November) is Family Dispute Resolution Week, which aims to raise awareness of better ways for couples to divorce. There's been a lot of activity in the media, and you can also use this website to find a lawyer in your local area who will be able to explain the alternatives to you.
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