Going through a separation or divorce can be a daunting experience and often people aren't aware of the different options available to them to resolve their situation. You may assume that you'll have to go to court, but that needn't be the case. We take the view that court should be used as a last resort, so depending on your circumstances an alternative approach may be more suitable for you.
Let's start by looking at the traditional approach. The traditional approach is to have a lawyer representing your interests and your spouse would have a lawyer representing them. The lawyers would negotiate and communicate with each other normally by letter or email. The focus initially would be to sort out any child care arrangements, payment of child maintenance and household bills and then they would look at how the assets and the debts would be divided. At the end of that process a formal separation agreement is prepared by the lawyers which you would both sign. In many cases this approach works well.
Collaboration is one of the alternative approaches. Collaborative lawyers have been specially trained to negotiate in a collaborative way. At the start of the process you both agree that you wont go to court but instead you will take part in a series of four-way meetings to resolve your dispute. You agree to treat each other with respect throughout the process and to act with integrity throughout. This can help to improve couple communication.
Another alternative approach is mediation. Mediation is a voluntary process which involves you and your spouse meeting with a trained mediator who is neutral in the negotiations. Their role is to work with both of you to try and reach an agreement about all outstanding matters. The mediator won't tell you what to do but they will work with you both to try and reach an overall settlement. There are two types of mediation - Lawyer mediation and non-lawyer mediation. Non-lawyer mediation can be accessed through the charity Relationship Scotland.
At Thorntons we have specialist lawyers who are trained in both collaborative and mediation methods. If you'd like to know more about the different options available then get in touch for an initial no-obligation chat to discuss your circumstances. You can get in touch today using the enquiry form or the telephone number which are available on our website.