This is a question that I get asked more and more these days as a family lawyer.
I have been practicing as a solicitor for over 9 years in the South West specialising in divorce and matrimonial finances and I am now based predominantly in Wolferstans’ Plympton and Plymstock offices. I am pleased to say that I have seen a noticeable shift in how people wish to deal with the divorce process and the division of the matrimonial assets. There is much less focus on being acrimonious and litigious and more and more clients tell me that they want to try to resolve their issues in an amicable and respectful way.
I trained and qualified as a Collaborative lawyer just over a year ago. Collaborative law offers another way to resolve financial and children issues following a separation. The Collaborative law process aims to allow clients to resolve matters concerning family breakdown and separation away from the court process.
The idea is that both parties have their own collaboratively trained solicitors and the parties and solicitors meet together to try and discuss and agree a way forward to resolve any issues between them. This can include financial issues and children issues and means that the parties have more control over the process and can work together to achieve the best outcome for all involved without the need to go to court.
This shift in approach is also supported by the Government’s recent announcement in the Queen’s Speech that it plans to review and reform divorce law. The Government is looking to remove the requirement of alleging fault as part of the divorce process. I hope that in the future, this could mean that it will no longer be necessary for one person to blame the other for the breakdown of the marriage. This shift, along with the collaborative law process, will hopefully make it easier to achieve better outcomes for all concerned when a relationship ends, especially any children involved.
Of course, in some relationship breakdowns no matter how reasonable one party may wish to be the other may not be of a similar mindset and in that case if an agreement cannot be negotiated then the court process may be the only option. I am also able to advise and represent clients in those circumstances.
I am available for appointments in any of our offices and can advise you on all aspects of family law.