The recent announcement from Jeff Besoz of Amazon that he and his wife are going to divorce, created quite a stir in the news because of the likelihood of it leading to the biggest divorce settlement in legal history. The couple were complemented for indicating that they are going deal with the settlement on an amicable basis, and that is to be commended. However, in reality, it is difficult to comprehend that either party could be left unhappy if they even received a fraction of the £176 billion fortune that the couple own. Unfortunately, for most couples, the reality is that “conscious uncoupling” (in the words of Gwyneth Paltrow) is not that easy to do without proper assistance from advisers.
Fortunately, a growing area of law which is assisting couples deal with matters on this basis more amicably and more maturely, is collaborative law. Collaborative law involves the parties and their collaborative law advisers all signing up to not going to court. The parties agree to deal with all discussions around the table, in private, without the delay of correspondence and interference of third parties. Each party and their solicitors sign the contract and agree to work towards a solution and settlement that suits both parties and the family. The use of four brains instead of two against two, can lead to extremely creative solutions which the parties would not necessarily gain from the traditional adversarial process. In addition, both solicitors will then work towards drafting and agreeing a Minute of Agreement together rather than drafting and revising with their own client’s agenda in mind. Often the whole collaborative process involves only four or five meetings which can last around two to three hours each. This is generally enough to take the case from start to finish. That, therefore, represents a significant reduction in the time it normally takes to settle matters and also the costs for the parties involved. In addition, the parties generally will have much more satisfaction in knowing what is going on at all times in the process. Seeing the involvement and effort being put in by their own solicitors, also allows them to understand their costs in a transparent and open way.
So far, the process of collaborative law is growing rapidly in Scotland and in other countries. In the majority of cases, collaborative law can be used rather than the traditional adversarial approach. Further information can be obtained from one of our collaborative lawyers, Noel Ferry or Gillian Crandles or alternatively the website of Consensus which is the Collaborative Law Association of Scotland.