A new model of working is on its way that will enable family lawyers to advise and work with separating couples jointly to resolve issues including finances and child arrangements. This new model follows the change to the law earlier this year that heralded the ‘no fault’ divorce system and introduced the opportunity for divorcing couples to submit a joint divorce application.
Resolution, an organisation that promotes a constructive approach to resolving family issues, is set to launch the new model later this summer. With the trend towards alternative dispute resolution a hot topic in family law, this is another step to help couples to avoid having to go to Court where possible.
Currently, couples can attend mediation to resolve issues arising from separation or divorce. Mediation involves an independent and impartial family mediator that facilitates a discussion between the couple to help them to resolve matters themselves. Mediators, however, do not give legal advice to couples meaning that each person would need to instruct their own lawyer if they wished to have legal advice or support during mediation. The new model will allow one lawyer to provide legal advice to couples jointly.
Although Court proceedings can’t always be avoided, the new working model is likely to be an attractive option for couples who want to work cooperatively together to reach a solution. Resolution have said that the model will be ‘suitable for those whose joint aim is to reach an outcome together which meets their needs and if they are parents, the needs of their children.’
The new model is a progressive step forward to assist separating couples to reduce the unnecessary conflict not to mention the costly and time consuming Court proceedings that can often be avoided. If an outcome can be achieved this way it will also avoid the need for the couple to instruct separate solicitors and avoid the extra cost that this involves.
Author: Samantha Downes, Family Law Solicitor