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A Better Way To Face The Bad Times
- AuthorSali Jackson-Thomas
Dealing with a separation can be one of the most difficult situations that a person can face, but as Family Dispute Resolution Week (25-29th November) aims to show, the upset of family breakdown doesn’t have to become a case to battle out in courts.
Now in it’s second year, Family Dispute Resolution Week was established to highlight the alternatives to court for separating couples. Dispute Resolution includes a number of alternatives to court proceedings one of which is the relatively new concept called Collaborative Law.
Members of South and West Wales regional law firm JCP Solicitors’ family law team are recognised in this non-confrontational method to resolve family breakdown - a method of resolution that aims to solve legal disputes by a series of face to face meetings that avoid the need for traditional court proceedings.
Along with her colleague and partner at the law firm Sali Jackson-Thomas, experienced family lawyer Rhian Davies is a specialist in Collaborative Law. Rhian explains how the process works and how it can help former partners reach an amicable and acrimonious result: “Rather than making an application to the Court, Collaborative Law brings both parties together, with each party voluntarily agreeing to a series of face to face meetings between the parties, their solicitors, and if necessary independent experts.
“These meetings allow the parties to openly exchange information and discuss the matter with an understanding that nothing communicated will later be used against them in court.
“The collaborative law process is founded on good faith. By taking a cooperative approach, rather than an adversarial one, parties can resolve difficult issues that would otherwise lead to expensive and time-consuming litigation.
“Started in Minnesota in 1989, Collaborative Law is frequently used in the US and there are a growing number of solicitors in Wales who have been trained to deal with family law cases collaboratively.
“It is particularly useful in dealing with divorce cases where there can be a tendency to ignore the ramifications of using the legal system to fight about relatively minor issues. These cases can spiral out of control, with the potential for each side to spend far more money on legal fees than either stands to gain, even in the unlikely event of a complete victory. Considering that the care and wellbeing of young children may be at stake as well, using collaborative law to handle a divorce proves to be the right choice for many couples.
“Litigation is well suited for those who are “looking for a fight,” and who do not mind spending a lot of money to battle the other party in court. However, for many individuals, the negative aspects of litigation outweigh any potential benefit.
“Litigation is expensive. Due to the volume of cases going through the courts, it is a slow process as well, and private, sensitive, or embarrassing information has to be shared in court papers. Importantly litigation makes it difficult for parties to maintain a cordial relationship once the case ends. This is a particular concern for divorcing couples who have children.”
If you are interested in finding solutions together and divorcing without contested court proceedings, collaborative law may be the answer.
Collaborative Law expert and Partner at JCP Solicitors, Sali Jackson-Thomas is based at the law firm’s Swansea office, with colleague and fellow Collaborative Lawyer Rhian Davies operating from the law firm’s Pembrokeshire offices.