How collaborative law can protect your children’s wellbeing

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted in Family Law on Monday, July 6th, 2020

Divorce is extremely emotional and stressful for everybody involved. But for your children, it can be particularly tough. The dissolution of a marriage can be hard for adults to understand, let alone young children, who often experience feelings of shock, uncertainty, anger, and even guilt. If your split is acrimonious, it can make it even harder for your children to cope.

Staying civil with your partner and working hard to present a united front to your children can massively reduce the anxiety they experience during the divorce process. And this is much more achievable when you separate using a collaborative approach.

What is collaborative law?

Collaborative law is a non-confrontational approach to divorce and separation, which focuses on helping couples resolve their differences out of court. It is a common choice for couples with children, as it allows them to come to an agreement calmly and in their own time. It can help you maintain a civil relationship that’s much better for your children, both now and in the future.

The process starts with each spouse instructing a specialist collaborative lawyer. Your lawyers will work together to reach an agreement that is acceptable to you both. The glue holding the process together is that, if negotiations break down and you end up taking your case to court, you will both have to hire new lawyers and start the process from scratch. This means that everyone, including the lawyers, is committed to achieving a positive outcome.

What’s the difference between collaborative law and litigation?

Litigation, or taking your case to court, means that you are bound by the judge’s timetable, so your children’s routine could face months of disruption (particularly at the moment while the courts are swamped with a backlog of cases). Most significantly, though, the litigation route focuses on each spouse building a separate case against the other, with each partner encouraged to take a ‘battle stance’. This can have a detrimental impact on their relationship outside of the courtroom, creating a negative and acrimonious home environment for any children.

Why might a collaborative approach be best for my children?

The most important thing about collaborative law is that the solution reached is agreed by both of you, rather than being handed down by a judge. In the latter case, it is unlikely that either partner will get exactly what they were hoping for from the divorce, and the resentment and hurt this causes can make it very difficult to maintain a civil and peaceful co-parenting relationship going forwards.

Imagine how the future might play out in this scenario. As co-parents, there’s no doubt that you’ll both want to attend your children’s birthday parties, concerts, graduation, wedding… the list goes on. Imagine how difficult it would be for your children to constantly witness hostility and resentment between you as they grow up, and have to manage all of that at the family events they want to invite you both to. 

Now imagine a second scenario. You worked hard to remain amicable during your divorce and came to an agreement you were both happy with, and which prioritised your children’s wellbeing. You are able to chat amicably when you pick your children up from each other’s homes, present a united front at family events, and generally treat each other with respect. Over the years, this could have an extremely positive impact on your children’s mental and emotional wellbeing.

Trained specialists, here for you

Our expert Family Law team understand how heartbreaking, stressful and painful the divorce process can be for both you and your children. Our expert collaborative lawyer, Karen Wallace (a divorced parent herself), has spent many years helping separating couples come to amicable agreements that have their children’s best interests at heart. Get in touch on 0203 871 0147 or email her at karen.wallace@attwaters.co.uk.

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