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Family law

Alternative Dispute Resolution

We understand how stressful a relationship breakdown is, whether it is divorce, dissolution of a civil partnership, separation from a cohabiting partner, contact with your child, or grandchild, or something else.  We are also passionate about helping our clients to find a way to resolve their disputes in a more positive way, a way which allows them to move on with their lives with a positive outlook.  There are now several different ways you can resolve your dispute and our team can advise you in relation to them all.  We have members of our team trained in collaborative law, mediation and arbitration and so we can give you all your options and allow you to choose the process which is right for you and your family. 

Mediation

Mediation facilitates good and respectful discussion between couples.  The mediator is highly trained to help couples reach agreement.  The mediator could be a non-legal mediator (Relationships Scotland offer a good mediation process) or a solicitor-mediator (www.calmscotland.co.uk) but they are always completely neutral.  That means that the mediator cannot act for either you or your partner.   

At the end of the mediation process the mediator will prepare a “mediation summary” which will outline any agreement you and your partner have reached.  You will then take that mediation summary back to your solicitors and they will prepare a separation agreement for you to make it fully binding and enforceable.   

We have trained mediators within our team who can assist you.  We can refer you and your partner on to a solicitor-mediator or we can act as your mediator (if we haven’t had any previous involvement in your case).   

Collaborative law

This is where you and your partner both instruct a solicitor to represent you but all negotiations between parties take place at joint meetings where you, your solicitor, your partner and your partner’s solicitor are all participating.  It is a very powerful process which makes sure that your hopes, dreams, concerns, fears are all listened to and that you and your partner both consider the greater needs of the family when coming to an agreement.  This process works particularly well where there are children in the family because it allows you to keep the children at the centre of all the decisions you make.   

It allows you to have some control over the process.  We find that most couples feel able to sit in the same room and discuss things with their partner but they like the comfort of having a legal advisor there to support them and to make sure they are making good decisions.  We find that couples are happier at the end of this process than most of the other processes and that they have a good and respectful relationship going forward. 

At the end of the process your solicitors will draft a separation agreement reflecting the agreement you have come to so that it is fully binding and enforceable.  We have a number of trained collaborative solicitors who can help you through this process. 

Arbitration 

Arbitration is similar to Court in that you are asking a third party to make a decision.  An Arbitrator is essentially a private family judge (www.flagsarb.com) who is a trained solicitor, advocate or even a former Court judge.  The advantage of this over Court is that you can choose exactly what issues to bring to arbitration to ask for decisions about.  With Court you are asking the Court to look at all your affairs and make decisions about everything.  You may have been using the solicitor negotiation process well but you and your partner can’t agree on one matter that you simply cannot get passed in order to reach an overall agreement.  You can refer that one issue to arbitration.  You are also guaranteed that the judge will be someone highly trained in family law, something that you cannot guarantee with Court.     

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