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There are various methods to resolve a dispute between separating or divorcing couples

There are many different ways in which to resolve a dispute between separating or divorcing couples.

Some couples are able to agree things between themselves, the so called ‘kitchen table agreements’. If this has been possible, you should then seek legal advice on the agreement reached and to obtain a legally binding document which reflects that agreement.


You can attend mediation – where you both meet with an independent mediator to help you reach an agreement. You will discuss your situation with the mediator and your ex-spouse or partner and hopefully agree a way forward. This is suitable where both parties are able to communicate well.  It is also now, legally necessary to attend mediation before making an application to the court regarding your children or finances (except in certain circumstances, such as if you have experienced domestic violence from your ex-partner or spouse).

As you prepare for and go through mediation with your ex-spouse or partner we can provide expert legal advice to help you present your case appropriately during mediation and discuss the issues constructively. This can assist you in achieving a successful outcome through mediation, with the knowledge that your best interests have been protected throughout the process. We can recommend experienced and effective mediators in your area.

You and your lawyer work together to resolve an agreement, by corresponding with your ex-spouse or partner’s solicitor, in order to constructively negotiate a settlement. Round-table meetings with your ex-spouse or partner and their solicitors can be very effective in order to assist the negotiation and reduce the time delay that correspondence often creates. This is the traditional way in which solicitors have resolved financial agreements for their client upon separation, divorce or dissolution. It can be efficient and cost-effective for client’s, where the legal issues between you both are relatively straight-forward and there is not a high level of dispute.

Resolution Together – one lawyer for both of you

Harbour Family Law is proud to offer Resolution Together – a service where both you and your former partner work with one lawyer to work out your separation in a positive and amicable way.


Why choose Resolution Together

We understand that separating couples often want to be able to work towards a fair outcome that meets everyone’s needs, particularly if you have children. This means that you might be working towards the same joint aim, even if you don’t always agree on everything.

At Harbour Family Law we can help you sort things out together, minimising conflict and making decisions that suit your individual circumstances.  You can agree things together, rather than risking an outcome through the courts which can be unpredictable and stressful.

This is also a very cost effective way of working through a separation, since you will be sharing the cost of one legal team between you.


How it works

We will begin by meeting each of you separately. This gives you a chance to tell us about your situation and help us understand what is really important to you, and we can explain how the Resolution Together process could work for you.

Through Resolution Together, we can help you resolve child arrangements, and reach a fair financial settlement. Once you have both had your individual meetings with your lawyer, we will arrange your first joint meeting to start working through your individual circumstances and looking at the options for resolving your situation. We will give you detailed legal advice tailored to your situation.

We will guide you through the various ways of dealing with disagreements, to keep things on track. This may involve seeking assistance from other experts such as actuaries, independent financial advisers, mediators and family therapists.

Once you reach an agreement you will have a 14 day cooling off period before you both confirm you wish to proceed, and at this stage we will help prepare any necessary documentation to formalise your outcome.


Will it be right for me?

In the past, it has not been possible for one lawyer to act for both clients, as we cannot work with people who’s interests are, or could be, in conflict. Since the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, couples have been able to make joint divorce applications. This chance also opened the door for lawyers to work together with both people where they have shared goals and interests.

In our initial discussions, we can help you consider whether Resolution Together would be a constructive approach to separation for you, or whether a traditional one-lawyer-one-client model would be more suitable.

If you are both committed to working together to sort things out, prioritising the needs of any children, and to reaching an outcome which is fair to everyone involved, Resolution Together could be right for you. You will both need to be emotionally ready to start discussing your separation, and willing to share all relevant information with each other. Once you start working together with your lawyer all communication will be completely open and transparent.


What if we can’t agree?

If it becomes clear that you do have a substantial conflict of interest, or if you are unable to reach an agreement about your situation, you will each be able to instruct new lawyers who will help you with the rest of your case. We will support you to plan the next steps to resolve matters as amicably as possible, but Harbour Family Law will not stay involved with your case after that.

If you would like to discuss working together to sort things out, please contact Hannah Holdaway by enquiring online or call the office on 012750741 202.

Collaborative practice can be very successful for those couples who wish for an amicable outcome to their separation or divorce and to preserve their family relationships. Collaborative law involves you and your partner/spouse agreeing not to go to court. You and your solicitors agree in writing that you will both try to reach an agreement through the Collaborative process and that neither of you will make an application to the court. (If either of you went back on this agreement you would have to de-instruct your solicitor and instruct a new solicitor not previously involved in your Collaborative process – This provides the motivation for all involved to work towards a Collaborative agreement being successful).

The process involves a series of meetings between you, your solicitor, your partner/spouse and their solicitor (‘four-way meetings’), where you discuss the issues which need to be resolved between you and reach an agreement. Other professionals can be involved in the Collaborative process, depending on the needs of you both, for example a Financial Advisor, Family Therapist, Accountant or Pensions expert. These other professionals support the Collaborative process, helping you to achieve the outcome you wish, without the need to attend court.

If agreement between you and your spouse is not possible through the above methods and there are clear areas of dispute between you and your ex-spouse or partner, then as a last resort, you may need to make an application to the Court, either to resolve arrangements for your children or to have a final order in relation to the finances.  The Court will set a time-table for certain evidence to be gathered and provided to the court.Mediation is now a ‘gateway’ to making an application to the court. You will need to show that you have attended a meeting with a mediator in order to be allowed to progress the application to the court. There are  certain specified circumstances (for example if you have experienced domestic violence from your ex-spouse or partner) where you may not need to attend mediation. Legal advice should be sought to ascertain whether you should attend.If Court proceedings becomes necessary, we will work with you to prepare your case for the court hearings and provide you with all the advice and support you will need to obtain the best possible outcome. We work closely with specialist barristers, experts in family court cases, who will represent you in court. We will work with you and your barrister, as a legal team, to present your best case to the court.
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