12 key questions to help you determine your legal options during divorce

Resolution (formerly known as the Solicitors Family Law Association, or SFLA) is something that all the family law team here at Bonallack and Bishop are proud to be members of. The organisation represents over 6,500 family lawyers in England and Wales. In addition to their purposeful campaigning, Resolution produce some very useful material for the legal profession on a number of aspects of family law.

We understand that no divorce is the same, but just recently a document produced by resolution really captured attention of our team here at Bonallack and Bishop – it was a list of questions to help determine the approach you should take when addressing the breakdown of your relationship. Overall, we found the list to very helpful to those contemplating separation, divorce or civil partnership dissolution in starting to think about the wide range of issues they’re going to need to address.

Here are those questions – so if your relationship has broken down, why not go ahead and answer them for yourself. They may just reveal what it is you will need to consider should you move forward with a divorce and how to deal with the process as a whole. But be aware, that they may make uncomfortable reading for some of you.

1. Do you always prioritise what is best for your children?

2. Are you looking for the legal process to be as simple as possible?

3. Do you like to feel in control of the decisions made about your family’s future?

4. Do you wish to avoid a long and tempestuous legal battle?

5. Do you want to keep the costs of a divorce low and under your control?

6. Do you believe that your relationship is equal in terms of power and decision-making?

7. Are you worried that you may be overawed by a partner’s powerful personality?

8. Do you think you will need professional legal help in order to obtain a fair outcome?

9. Do the financial implications of a divorce and financial aspects of your relationship concern you?

10. Do you see divorce as a means to bring closure to your relationship?

11. Do you wish to play a part in the divorce process or would you prefer someone else to handle it on your behalf?

12. Are your personal and family finances in order, while also being clear enough for a third party to understand?

For specialist advice, call our specialist Family Mediation and Collaborative Law Team today

SALISBURY [01722] 422300

AMESBURY [01980] 622992

ANDOVER [01264] 364433

OR e-mail our team using the email contact form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Legal Services Board to Investigate Online Divorce

The consumer watchdog for the legal industry, the Legal Services Consumer Panel, is to lead new research into the use of do it yourself online divorce offerings. It wants to look at both the risks and the challenges facing the legal firm given the increasing numbers of people logging on to do their legal work over the internet.

A few legal firms [and other non-lawyers] currently offer a download service for basic legal documents as part of their basic service, but new kids on the block such as LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer do nothing but create legal documents online for both individuals and business customers. It’s not completely new model, of course. You have been able to buy a blank will form from WH Smiths for just a few quid for decades now – but thankfully few people have been daft enough to take up that particular offer.

Along with the Legal Services Board, the consumer panel are to undertake new research into the online legal market and will speak to customers who have used online services to ask them to evaluate their experience. The report is expected to be out in the summer.

Many businesses and individuals still get legal advice in a traditional way, but online legal businesses are quickly starting to win a larger share of the market.

The consumer panel stressed that they understood why many people prefer to access divorce services online they are cheaper, quicker, more convenient and there is more choice. However, they also point out that there are some significant potential risks.

In response, the chairman of a leading online legal document company said that traditional law firms should be looking at the way they use online technology. Richard Cohen, who has in the past worked with Admiral Insurance and the AA, told an industry conference that he believed that many in the legal profession felt “threatened” by technological advances. He may be right. However technology doesn’t frighten us here at Bonallack and Bishop – we are convinced that technology will play an increasing role in the future production of legal documents – and that’s a good thing for consumers, provided, and this is a big proviso, that clients are getting the right advice they need. Just being provided with a blank form and being to get on with it yourself is certainly not the answer. It is being seen to see what the legal services consumer panel, and how the interests of consumers of legal services will be protected in the digital age.

However, while some areas of law will be increasingly driven by technology – divorce and family law may well buck the trend. Relationship breakdown involves often highly complex issues, not to mention strong emotions. For the foreseeable future, we think that family mediation will continue to form the best way forward for many separating couples.

Call our specialist Family Mediation and Collaborative Law Divorce Solicitors today

SALISBURY [01722] 422300

AMESBURY [01980] 622992

ANDOVER [01264] 364433

OR e-mail our team using the email contact form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Divorcing parents are unaware of the effects of their separation on their children

The online parenting organisation, Netmums, has conducted a survey that suggests that parents who are divorcing are in denial about the actual effects of their separation on their children.

The results of this extensive study that utilised separate surveys for both 1000 parents and 100 children, found that the children were three times as likely to have seen their parents fighting than the adults had ever realised.

Moreover, one in five of the children admitted that they had experimented with drinking to cope and that one in nine children had self-harmed. Significantly it was found that six percent of the children had even considered suicide and that a third of these children had actually tried but were stopped in time. Getting on for a third of under 18s who were surveyed said that they were ‘devastated’ by their parents divorce.

They study also showed that children were more than twice as likely to blame themselves for the end of their parents’ marriage as the adults were to notice that this is what their children were thinking.

This survey has exposed that children hide their true feelings from their parents. As to how the children rationalised the divorce of their parents, one in twelve children explained that they had concluded that it meant their parents did not love them. Another thirteen percent of the children blamed themselves which only five percent of the parents surveyed realised. Just 14 per cent of children felt that they could be honest with their parents about how upset they had been by their parents’ separation

However, it appears that youngsters are able to cope better than their parents, with wider social views of broken families – a remarkable 64% of the children surveyed agreed that divorce was “not seen as a big deal” – in contrast, just 28% of their parents shared that view

From this survey it can be observed that the real effects of divorce on children can be devastating and that most parents do not realise what their children are actually going through.

This blog entry, of course, comes hot on the heels of the earlier blog dated April 4 about a survey conducted by Relate , which concluded that divorce had a very damaging effect on many children. Although we’ve said it before, we think this latest survey provides yet more evidence of the important role family mediation has to play relationship breakdown – at least for those parents who are able to put a space in the mediation process. For them working alongside trained family mediators offers a genuinely quicker and far less acrimonious way of handling the legal issues surrounding relationship breakdown – which is good for parents and particularly good for their children.

Thinking about Family Mediation? Contact us today

  • Call us now on one of the following local numbers

SALISBURY [01722] 422300

AMESBURY [01980] 622992

ANDOVER [01264] 364433          

  • OR e-mail our team using the email contact form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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When children are involved there is no such thing as a “good divorce”

A recent study by the relationship support charity Relate has shown that there can be no such thing as a ‘good’ divorce when there are children involved.

The study that examined nearly 1000 families found that 58 percent of the separated parents did not believe that a ‘good’ separation was possible when children are involved. Further, over half of the parents acknowledged that regardless of their best efforts to minimise the pain of the divorce on their children, that the experience of seperation had a negative impact on their children.

In terms of the length of the divorce process, 40 percent of the separated parents who were polled said that their separation took less than a year, 43 percent said it took one to four years and 10 percent said that it took 5 years or more. As more than half of the separated parents surveyed admitted that the separation had a negative impact on their children, it is therefore clear that finding ways of reducing the impact of a separation is vital.

This recent survey, has highlighted how drawn out the majority of separations actually are with only 40 percent of those families polled having completed the divorce process in under a year.

The charity has also disclosed a vast increase in couples booking appointments to see counsellors in the wake of the Christmas holiday. This finding therefore goes someway to substantiate claims that there is a rise in divorce enquiries the day after the New Year, a day that has become known as ‘Divorce Day’.

Our conclusion – whilst perhaps there is no great surprise in hearing from Relate that children suffer in any divorce [or any relationship breakdown between parents for that matter], we think it is yet more evidence of the important role played by family mediators. The whole family mediation process works particularly well when children are involved. It allows their parents to emphasise that despite spitting up, they can still work together – a reassurance that children so desperately need.

Click here for more about how to use family mediation for disputes involving children

Considering Family Mediation? Call us today

SALISBURY [01722] 422300

AMESBURY [01980 622992]

ANDOVER [01264] 364433

  • OR e-mail our team using the email contact form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Good news for the growth of family mediation and collaborative law

According to a survey published today by Resolution [the nationwide association of 6500 specialist family lawyers], a full 53% of the 2018 British people surveyed would prioritise making any divorce as free of conflict as they can. The survey was carried out by ComRes as part of Resolution’s Family Dispute Resolution Week which aims at highlighting the availability of non confrontational approaches to family disputes, such as collaborative law and family mediation.

However, as evidence that the collaborative law and mediation messages still have a long way to go, 45% of those surveyed, believed that most divorces inevitably involve a trip to court. Again the good news is that reality is quite different. With regard to financial issues, which are at the centre of most divorce disputes, our family law and divorce team see under 3% of them involving any form of contested final hearing – though a larger percentage do involve some element of court attendance prior to a settlement being reached.

In addition to greater public awareness of these non-confrontational approaches, recent figures provided by Resolution show that the use of family mediation actually increased by 51% in 2011 compared with 2010.

What was also interesting from the survey was that most headlines concentrated on the number of people saying children should come first in any divorce. The press release from Resolution which accompanied the release of the survey had as its headline “Four out of five people say children should come first in divorce”. What was worrying, however, was that on checking the actual survey figures, the remaining 22% did not believe that children should be put first or even second when it came to resolving a divorce! Absolutely staggering. It seems, therefore, that however keen many family lawyers are to take the heat out of divorce, and ensure that the interests of children are prioritised, a significant number of the public still don’t get it.

If you live in Wiltshire and you’re going through a divorce, civil partnership dissolution or any form of relationship breakdown or dispute, we recommend family mediation and collaborative law as positive ways to approach resolution of your problem – call our specialist lawyers today for FREE initial legal advice and a FREE 30 minute appointment.

Participation Agreement – the key document in Collaborative law

Collaborative law enables couples who have decided to separate or end their marriage to work with their lawyers and other professionals in order to obtain a settlement which best meets the specific needs of both parties and their children outside of Court and without contested litigation.

Collaborative law is a voluntary process initiated when a couple signs a ‘Participation Agreement’, a contract legally binding them to the process and disqualifying their respective lawyers’ right to represent either in any future family-related litigation.

The parties and their collaborative lawyers agree that:

• all concerned will behave courteously and in good faith

• each party will freely disclose all pertinent information and not conceal any facts

• if the settlement process fails, the original lawyers must withdraw and the parties select new lawyers

• neither party will take advantage of mistakes by the other side

• the content matter of the settlement meetings remains confidential

Collaborative law can also be used to facilitate other family issues, such as disputes between parents and the drawing up of pre and post-marital contracts. In the case of the former, many couples prefer to embark on married life by drawing up documents consensually.

Since both lawyers would lose their clients if an agreement was not reached, it is in their interests to encourage them to cooperate and find solutions that honour the concerns of both parties. Other advantages are that it encourages mutual respect, provides for open communication, utilises a problem-solving approach and prepares individuals for their new lives.

7 Reasons To Choose Collaborative Family Law

The collaborative law approach to family law has gained a lot of ground in recent years. Unlike mediation, which takes place under the guidance of a neutral arbitrator, collaborative family law involves lawyers at every stage of the process. So why should you consider this approach if you find yourself needing a divorce settlement?

1 – It’s non-aggressive. As the name suggests, the collaborative approach is all about working together to find a solution that suits all parties.

2 – It retains all the benefits of having a divorce lawyer on your side, particularly important if you don’t feel up to the task of negotiating on your own behalf.

3 – Collaborative Law is especially suitable for those who need to put their children’s interests first. This is often an area of common ground that can be built upon very successfully with the collaborative approach.

4 – It avoids the lingering rancour of dragging the process through court. If your relationship is still reasonably amicable, and you want it to remain that way, then you should definitely consider a collaborative divorce settlement.

5 – It enables you to keep control of your financial arrangements, whilst still giving you access to expert legal advice.

6 – It gives you back a measure of control over your own divorce, something that can be all too easily lost in traditional, lawyer-led divorce proceedings.

7 – It’s a way to avoid, or at least minimise, the bitterness that can arise if either party tries to seek revenge on the other.

Divorce is never going to be easy or pleasant, but the collaborative family law approach is a way of giving you back as much dignity and control as possible.