Dialogue is key ingredient in family disputes
A leading family lawyer has welcomed predictions that collaborative law, the process of resolving family disputes outside a courtroom, will become increasingly popular
. Not just because it has the potential to reach an agreement faster and cheaper
than traditional methods, but because legal aid looks set to be withdrawn from divorce-related disputes.
"Under collaborative law
there is an incentive on all the parties to reach an amicable agreement, and that includes the lawyers," says Emma Pearmaine who is head of Family Law
at Simpson Millar. "If no agreement is reached then the lawyers on both sides are off the case."
In short; collaborative law is a non-combative route to solving family disputes
through open and honest dialogue. Part of the idea behind collaborative law is to remove any interest solicitors might have in encouraging the dispute to drag on. Likewise, the families are keen to maintain their preferred solicitor and not be forced to disinstruct them if the process fails.
Emma says: "Many couples who embrace the philosophy of collaborative law reach an agreement faster and spend less on legal fees. This process can also be far less emotionally draining for everyone involved. Open dialogue with professional support and guidance on the sideline can sometimes be all that is needed to reach a fair settlement for all parties."
With less legal aid available for disputes arising from a divorce
, it seems likely that more couples will opt for the collaborative approach. Research by Professor Rosemary Hunter, of the University of Kent highlighted the potential for a greater proportion of out-of-court family dispute resolution. From a sample of 2,974 divorcees, 292 had been offered collaborative law and of those, 80% accepted the offer.