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For separating couples, it is often hard to reach agreement on how to deal with finances and arrangements for children. At the end of a relationship, communication has often broken down and there are heightened emotions to overcome. All of this can make it far harder to put differences aside and reach a fair agreement. If and when separating couples hit this brick wall, they may feel that resorting to legal advice is too extreme.

Professional legal advice doesn’t necessarily mean costly and lengthy litigation. In fact it can bring clarity to the law and the legal process and help the entire family move on.  Equally your lawyer can point you in the direction of alternative dispute resolution options better suited to you and your situation.

Mediation can prove fruitful in helping couples to reach agreement. Mediation normally involves the separating couple talking with a trained mediator to discuss areas of disagreement during the course of a number of meetings. For most applications to court, mediation is a necessity in the first instance.

A lesser-known option is collaborative law. This process requires the separating couple to seek independent advice from a trained collaborative lawyer and sign a formal document agreeing to resolve any disagreements relating to finances or children without the court’s involvement. The separating couple and their legal representatives then attend a number of round table meetings to discuss issues of concern and reach an agreement.

Another possibility is arbitration. Each party has their own lawyer who jointly select an experienced family lawyer to essentially sit as a judge. Although this incurs an additional cost in appointing the arbitrator, the benefits are numerous. You can set your own timescales and choose the issues to focus on. There is also greater control over the costs for the separating couple. At the end of the process, the parties have a binding result that they can rely on.

If you are struggling to come to an agreement with your partner following separation, a lawyer can help you through the legal landscape as well as identify the best mechanism for you and your circumstances to help you both to move on.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.