When a relationship breaks down, there are lots of questions at what is a very emotional and anxious time. It is always wise to speak to a solicitor at an early stage who should explain:
- that every situation is different and what works for one person will not necessarily work for another
- outstanding issues can be resolved without acrimonious exchange of lawyers’ letters or by court action
- the different procedures that are available
- that it can take time to come to terms emotionally with a separation and no one should feel rushed in to making decisions
The most common way to address the issues that arise from a separation is for your solicitor to enter in to a dialogue with another lawyer. Experienced family lawyers will support their clients and argue their case but should never make a situation more contentious that it is.
Family mediation can help couples in conflict to communicate more effectively with one another, with the assistance of a trained independent mediator, who will discuss the options available and help the parties to work through their differences together. Although the prospect of sitting together can sometime be daunting, it can be a very effective procedure. The mediator’s role is not to impose solutions but to allow the parties to work them out for themselves.
Collaborative family law is another way of proceeding where the parties work with their solicitors to reach solutions through a series of four way meetings, rather than going to court. The parties themselves can never be prevented from litigating but cannot do so using the solicitors instructed in the collaborative process.
It may also be worth mentioning that arbitration is now available in family disputes, through the Family Law Arbitration Group Scotland (FLAGS).
There are of course some cases in which litigation is necessary and cannot be avoided. The important thing is that the procedures involved and the cost are fully explained at the outset.
If you are in a difficult situation and don’t know where to start please contact me for specific advice.