Choosing the right approach is crucial for getting the best outcome, Claire Blackmore shares her expertise on how to make that happen
Divorce is not a life event that people set out to achieve. Even for those people who instigate the divorce, it is by no means an easy decision. Everyone's situation is unique. This means that what's fair for one couple and best for their children (if they have any) will be different to that of another family. But if you aspire to have a good divorce here are areas to look out for:
When I first qualified (too many years ago now to mention), mediation for family matters was rarely used. The standard practice was to issue divorce and financial proceedings and whilst there was a stated aspiration to resolve matters without going to court, often court proceedings were necessary. Over time, however, new practices such as collaborative law, arbitration, neutral evaluations and different mediation models have emerged. This is certainly beneficial to those going through a divorce, because it gives people choices, but challenges remain.
One of the challenges is misconceptions about some of the methods. Some people believe that mediation is only suitable for those people who are largely agreed or amicable. That's really not the case.
Another unfortunate consequence of the emergence of having options is that they tend to be practiced in silos, which means that if people use one model, but it doesn't work, they came out of that model and into another. It was a combination of seeing the benefits and challenges of dispute resolution services that made me realise that we needed to practice differently if we are to help people not only get the best outcome but get through the divorce in the best way for them.
Discussing your aims
I talk to my clients about their aims and we create a plan of how to get there. It gives them control and choice by giving them joined up services that can be flexible for what they need.
This is a method where I work with couples to take them through the options available. If that's facilitated negotiations, with giving an independent neutral evaluation of the outcome in their situation, that will be weaved into the process. If they get stuck and need a decision made at any point that can also be done. Working flexibly like this also means that professionals from other disciplines can be brought into the process.
Therapeutic support/Financial advice
Working holistically means that the right people will be doing the right work, at the right time for the couple. Coaching can be wrapped in. If people need financial advice that can also be obtained. The aim is to be flexible so that couples don't need to worry about choosing the right way because all the right options will be used as they need them.
Being flexible in your approach
Of course, it is recognised that there will be differences of opinions, needs, and emotional responses to what is a complex situation. This is why couples need a sophisticated and flexible approach rather than the blunt, inflexible approach of litigation or the frustration of failed attempts at avoiding litigation.
So, in order to have a good divorce, my advice is to work with people who can get you to the best place but who will also make the journey the right one for you, because if the journey is wrong, it can make the destination feel far less appealing and probably will take much longer to get there.
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