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Heather Souter | 7th August 2023

Divorce – there is another way. Introducing collaborative law

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Heather Souter | 7th August 2023

Divorce – there is another way. Introducing collaborative law


Unfortunately, many people will experience a relationship breakdown during their lifetime. For those people who are married, there will be additional steps required to end their relationship and extinguish the financial ties created by their marriage. This can be especially important if there is a business encompassing a vineyard or winery, particularly if both spouses are engaged in the business, something which may also need to change.

Most people understand that it is a divorce that ends a marriage. What is less widely known is that divorce is not the end of the story, and it does not resolve the financial claims between a separating couple. This means that, if an agreement about finances is not reached and embodied in an order approved by the family court, your former spouse could still bring a financial claim against you, perhaps many, many years later (there have been cases where this has been decades later).

If that happens, the financial circumstances at the time of the claim will be considered. Somebody’s financial circumstances could have significantly improved and the risk is that a former spouse could pop up out of the blue and seek to share in that new-found wealth.

This is why divorce and finances go hand-in-hand and why it is so important that a financial agreement is reached and recorded correctly in a legally binding document.

Whilst the divorce process itself is largely administrative (particularly since the introduction of no-fault divorce in April 2022), it is not always easy or straightforward to reach an agreement about finances when there are assets such as land or companies involved. Many people think this involves going to court and hotly contested litigation, with everything that goes with that stress, delay and often eye watering legal fees.

Sometimes court cannot be avoided but there are other ways to reach a solution, including the collaborative process.

This is a process where you and your spouse, and your respective collaboratively trained lawyers, commit to resolving family matters without involving the court, attending a number of meetings together to discuss and reach an agreement about the issues that truly matter to you.

There are a number of benefits to choosing the collaborative process including:

  • you set the agenda, ensuring everybody involved knows what matters to you and your family priorities;
  • nothing is hidden and there is transparency between you and your partner to help positive and open discussions;
  • you can ask questions and have them answered at meetings, so that you are all aware of the answers and there is clarity for everybody involved;
  • you move at your own pace, having as many meetings as you and your partner need; and
  • you can have other experts, such as accountants, family consultants, mortgage advisors and pensions experts with you as and when needed.

The Family team at Paris Smith has a number of qualified collaborative lawyers who would be more than happy to speak to you if you are going through a separation and would like to know more about the ways to reach a solution about family issues, including collaborative law.

There really is a kind of magic about collaborative law, which comes from a spirit of openness and trust. Most people who choose collaborative law feel like they’ve made the right choice, which can only be for the benefit of everyone involved.

If you would like to speak to someone about the collaborative law process then please have a read of our website page and contact a member of the Family team.

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