Our separate well with one lawyer service offers couples a more co-operative approach to separation and divorce, alleviating potential conflict and saving time and money.
The service enables couples to instruct one lawyer to give the same advice to both about financial and children arrangements, and to guide both to achieve an agreed outcome in a dignified and conflict-free manner.
Alison Bull, partner in our family team, said couples have long been asking if the firm could represent both parties. She said: “Until now we have helped separating couples together in mediation. However, that has meant we have not been able to give both parties legal advice – just legal information about the parameters of what the courts might order, and we have not been able to obtain an agreed order from the court for the separating couple. Sometimes couples really want legal advice and to use that to help guide them to a consensual outcome.
“Our separate well with one lawyer service will now enable us to give legal advice to the couple, to help the parties reach agreement about all legal issues arising out of separation, and to have those agreements recorded and approved by the court where necessary.
“For couples wanting a co-operative approach, and to cut out expensive litigious lawyers, the service offers lots of advantages. First, it is cost effective because they are only paying for one lawyer not two but are still getting bespoke and specialist legal advice; and it is the same advice. After all, the law is the same whoever a lawyer is acting for! Secondly, we advise couples what orders we think the court would make based on the information they both provide, and then help guide them to a workable solution in a constructive process that allows them to control the outcome. Thirdly, and of crucial importance to couples with children, this process will help reduce or even stop their children being damaged by the separation process. There is plenty of evidence showing that it is parental conflict rather than parental separation that is damaging for children.”
However, Alison says it is not for everyone and a commitment from both to co-operation, openness and transparency, and full and frank disclosure is essential.
“We have effective individual meetings with each client before they sign up to the process with the aim of ensuring that there are no issues such as domestic abuse or safeguarding. If there is already conflict and heightened tension, or if the couple are clearly apart on one or more issues and reluctant to compromise then mediation or arbitration are likely to be better options to help them. Our family team has many skilled and experienced family lawyers and offers all forms of family dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration, and we aim to work with all couples to determine which option is best for them, which in some cases will be instructing separate lawyers.
“The introduction of ‘no fault divorce’ was the biggest reform to family law in decades and following on from that we can now offer couples joint advice from highly skilled family lawyers who are dedicated to helping achieve a dignified solution on separation and divorce.”