Date: 22 September 2017

A calm divorce, for a happier future

Collaborative Law

Breaking up is hard to do, but can you ever have an ‘amicable’ divorce? Here’s how to make a divorce as pain free as possible.

Mention the word ‘divorce’ and chances are the first thing that springs to mind is conflict, anger and tears.

But many couples are discovering that divorce does not have to be quite so traumatic and that, despite what many might think, it is actually possible to have an ‘amicable’ divorce.

Rather than adopting an adversarial stance from the start, they are taking a more mature and sensible approach, and playing by a set of rules that should take the sting out of what can be one of life’s biggest challenges.

Moving on made easy

When Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced their “conscious uncoupling,” the phrase was met with bemusement in some quarters. However the pair had the final laugh – emerging from their marriage with a seemingly healthy friendship which paved the way for both to play an active and happy role in their children’s lives.

The key, according to the A-lister, was to remain positive and focused on making the divorce work. “I reminded myself about the things about my ex-husband that I love, and fostered the friendship,” she said.

Today the pair are a model for families facing a break up; apparently devoid of anger and bitterness, it is a win-win situation for all involved.

‘The couple’s approach echoes the increasingly popular option of ‘collaborative practice’, says our family law specialist Wendy Bailey

“Collaborative Law has been available in England for ten years but it is still viewed as a relatively new concept,” she explained. “It is an alternative way of resolving family disputes, involving face-to-face meetings, each person with their own collaborative lawyer, talking through the issues and reaching an agreement that is best for the whole family.”

How it works

Lawyers for both parties work hand in hand – not against each other – with a common purpose of striking a balance that meets everyone’s needs.

The court system is usually only used to confirm the financial agreement reached or to obtain a consent order.

The result is usually less stressful and upsetting with issues talked through outside of the high tension atmosphere of a courtroom. As both parties have agreed to be open and fair at the outset, there are no suspicions or misunderstandings.

It is often cheaper, as there are not contentious court hearings to worry about. Plus, it often feels less intrusive than thrashing out private details in the public surroundings of a court.

Sensible steps make a better divorce

There are other key factors to remember when hoping for an ‘amicable’ divorce. Although they seem simple, it can be difficult to remember the following in the heat and pain of a break-up:

  • Avoid bad mouthing your ex on social media, or competing with each other for the support of family and friends.
  • Children need to know both of their parents still love them. Do not criticise your ex in front of them, no matter how upset you are.
  • Do not get wound up about possessions too much, for example who gets a dinner set that you received as a wedding present. Things can eventually be replaced, whereas preserving a good relationship with an ex can serve you for a lifetime.

Speaking to a good solicitor is the starting point, adds Wendy. They can explain more about collaborative practice and provide answers to the difficult questions surrounding each stage of the process.

Divorce is a challenging experience, but by taking the right steps you will ease the path to a healthy, respectful separation.

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