Mediation & Collaborative Law
Formal mediation and collaborative law are both relatively new to family law matters and represent a gradual shift in approach to family breakup which has taken place over many years.
At one time divorce proceedings were almost always highly contentious engendering and often encouraging great bitterness and minimising any chance of reconciliation or even co-operation in future dealings with the children. This can still happen to today but the greater incidence of relationship break-up, changing social attitudes and cost have led to the introduction of less confrontational procedures.
Mediation in the context of family law is not to be confused with marriage guidance or attempts at reconciliation. Its purpose is not to avert relationship breakup but to ease the consequences of its fallout. It is of most use in sorting out financial and child contact issues. The two parties continue to have their separate legal advisers: the mediator is independent. The object of mediation is to encourage the parties to identify the issues in dispute, to present them with the facts and to help them find their own resolution of the problems.
The experienced mediator will provide information for the parties and tell them whether what is being proposed is within what a court might order. The mediator does not advise either party as to whether or not the solution they have arrived at is one they should accept. At the end of the process the mediator draws up a memorandum setting out the proposals and the parties then have the opportunity to discuss these with their own solicitors before those proposals are put into a final format.
Mediation often succeeds even in the most unpromising circumstances.
Collaborative law is so called because, contrary to normal practice, the opposing parties and their solicitors all formally agree at the outset to work together to find a solution to the particular relationship problems. Each solicitor still represents her or his own client but usually the parties agree to use joint expert advice as necessary. The process involves a number of round table i.e. four way meetings which are carefully structured to work towards a mutually agreed outcome.
The solicitors have a duty to encourage their clients to work together to resolve problems and the clients themselves are committed to doing so. In the event that the collaboration breaks down both solicitors are obliged to withdraw and the parties have to seek advice elsewhere.
Both Lisa Holden and Laura Martin are trained and qualified family law mediators and Lisa is a trained collaborative lawyer.
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