Take a collaborative approach to family law

When a family falls apart it is often the children who are caught in the middle.

As a recent case highlights, taking a collaborative approach could be better. It can be a much more amicable and quicker way to resolve personal issues compared to court proceedings, which can be unnecessarily drawn out.

First, here’s the case

In the case of Re J and K (Children: Private Law) [2014], the children were twins who had been born prematurely. Shortly after their birth, the parents separated.

They were going through a particularly difficult and emotional time, resulting in the proceedings around what should happen to the care and residency of their children going on for 10 years.

By the final hearing, there had been at least 24 previous hearings.

The case itself wasn’t particularly complex – the mother and father were dealing with common issues relating to parental responsibility, contact and residency.

The problem appears to be that they struggled to trust each other, took allegations and comments very personally, and failed to communicate effectively. So they had to rely on litigation – i.e. going to court – to try and resolve their issues.

It was this failure to try and discuss matters amicably that led to the proceedings going on for a whole decade during a very pertinent time of the children’s lives.

Taking a collaborative approach

The problem with using litigation in attempting to resolve family issues is that when relationships are already fragile and emotions are running high it can make matters worse.

Going to court doesn’t necessarily get to the heart of why issues are arising and what underlying feelings could be influencing the attitudes of both parties.

Litigation can also be seen as a battle, where one side ‘wins’.

However, in cases involving children it’s vital for both parents to see that the aim is to come up with a solution that benefits their children the most and that they can both still have an important role in their lives.

Discussing matters outside of court, using a collaborative approach, can reassure parents of any concerns they may have.

It can help both parties understand each other’s feelings and come to a solution that will be the best for everyone involved – especially the children.

Finding common ground

In this particular case, the legal professionals were complimented on how they handled it.

Instead of focusing on the issues the parents were disputing, they looked at the points of common interest and agreement.

After a decade of court proceedings, the solicitors dealing with the final hearing seemed to be sensitive to the need to resolve matters calmly and effectively, without provoking further emotion and disagreements.

Where can you find a Collaborative Solicitor?

Look no further.

If you are going through a family matter and want to avoid potentially lengthy and stressful court proceedings, Wallace Robinson and Morgan can help you.

All our family solicitors are members of Resolution and aim to settle disputes out of court in a constructive and non-confrontational manner.

Kathryn Ferris and Sharn Nijjar have undertaken an extensive training course leading to qualification as Collaborative Family Lawyers allowing them to offer clients the benefits of this innovative approach which focuses on settling family disputes out of court.

This article is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute technical, financial, legal advice or any other type of professional advice and is no substitute for specific advice based on your individual circumstances. We do not accept responsibility or liability for any actions taken based on the information in this article. For more information, please click here.