Collaborative law is one way you can do this. The collaborative process is about reaching and finding solutions together with the clear intention of not going to Court to resolve your differences.
It may be that you have already discussed with your spouse the idea of mediation. The difference between the collaborative process and mediation is that mediation involves an independent party, the mediator (or sometimes two mediators), who will meet with you and your spouse together enabling you to discuss your issues and hopefully draw up an agreement often referred to as a Memorandum of Understanding. The mediator is not on either party’s side and is not there to provide any legal advice but is there to simply facilitate discussion.
In collaborative law, you each have your own solicitor representing you. You will have face to face meetings, with your respective solicitors present, but with the positive intention of working together to consider and discuss all relevant issues with the objective of forming an agreement between parties. You will set the agenda as to what needs to be discussed and you can set the pace. There are no Court dates putting pressure on you, so this process can provide you all with flexibility in terms of timings.
Both parties and their solicitors sign a Participation Agreement at the beginning of the process to confirm their intention to use the collaborative process positively. Either party are prevented from starting legal proceedings until they give notice of their intention to apply to the Court to deal with their matter but this would mean that their respective solicitors would have to withdraw from acting for them. This is an important aspect to the process, intending to commit all parties (and therefore including the parties’ solicitors). This makes the collaborative process more effective in that it increases the confidence of both parties to commit to working towards an agreement rather than rushing off to Court which would often be adversarial and hostile.
Some of the benefits to collaborative law include:
The solicitors for you and your spouse will need to be collaboratively trained and you may wish to check this at the outset when researching solicitors firms if you would like to use this process. However you may wish to discuss the option of collaborative law with your spouse at the early stages.