Separation can be a difficult and overwhelming experience and even more so when there are children involved. You and your ex-partner may possibly have opposing views as to how to divide your family assets and as to what is best for your children. It is important, if possible, to keep the lines of communication open between you both as you may eventually be able to reach a compromise. If you are able to resolve your issues direct, follow this up by taking legal advice so that you are fully aware of the legal implications of the agreement. You can also arrange for your agreement to be reflected in a legally binding document.
If you are unable to reach an agreement direct with your ex-partner or if you are confused, there are several different options available to you.
In attending mediation, you and your ex-partner will be assisted by a trained mediator to help sort out children and financial matters. The mediator will help to guide and assist you in your discussions. The mediator will not take sides or give legal advice but his/her role will be simply to help you towards what is best for you and your children. You may consult a family solicitor during the mediation process to ensure that the deal you are considering is fair and if you reach an agreement, it can be made into a legally binding document. Mediation may however not be appropriate if there has been domestic violence within your relationship and you may have to consider other options.
Collaborative Law Process
This process helps you reach agreement through a series of face to face meetings with you and your ex-partner each having specially trained collaborative lawyers by your side. The emphasis of this process is to allow you to deal with your issues in a non-confrontational way so that you can retain an amicable relationship with your ex-partner moving forward. You and your ex-partner will have to sign up to an agreement which commits you to trying to resolve the issues without going to court. If the negotiations break down, your collaborative lawyer will not be able to represent you at court. If you reach an agreement within the collaborative law process, this can be reflected in a legally binding document. Carline Gayle-Buckle of Moore & Tibbits is a trained collaborative lawyer and can help you through this process should you wish to do so.
You may choose to use a solicitor who can give you independent advice on your rights, responsibilities and legal entitlement on separation. A solicitor can negotiate and try to resolve your issues directly with your ex-partner or with his or her solicitor. Any agreement reached in this process can be placed within a legally binding document.
Going to Court
If attempts to resolve the issues on your separation fail, you may have to consider starting court proceedings. Before you issue proceedings the court will have to be assured that you have considered all other options and you will have to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). In court proceedings, the court ultimately has the power to make a decision about what it considers to be fair and reasonable and you will have to abide by the terms of the court’s decision. It is possible during the court process to reach an agreement directly with your ex-spouse and at any stage prior to a final hearing.
Upon separation, you should take time to consider all the options available to you and decide on which is the best route to pursue. If you need further guidance or information as to the options available, please contact Carline Gayle-Buckle for free initial advice on 01926 491181.