A new approach to solving matrimonial disputes | 14 January 11

LAW firm Ward Hadaway is helping to pioneer a new way towards solving potentially disruptive family disputes.

Julia Middleton, a solicitor in the firm’s highly rated family and matrimonial team, is now a fully trained collaborative lawyer.

Collaborative law is a relatively new way of resolving divorce, separation, financial and parenting disputes for separating couples.

The method can be used for those who seek a fair and shared solution and for those who want to resolve their issues in a less confrontational way.

Julia explained: “Traditionally, separating couples seek independent legal advice to try and resolve any issues arising from their separation.

“Whilst for some this does result in an agreement, for many it does not and then the family court may need to decide any areas of dispute.

“In collaborative family law, whilst you and your partner retain specially trained family lawyers for advice and support, you both sign an agreement disqualifying your collaborative lawyer from representing you at court, to show you are both committed to reaching a settlement.”

Under the process, both partners meet with their respective lawyers for a series of face to face meetings to discuss issues.

An agenda is agreed by both partners identifying issues they both want to address, allowing both partners to retain control, stay in charge of the process and set the pace.

Julia explained: “Another advantage to collaborative law is that correspondence between lawyers is discouraged, which helps to keep costs and potential sources of acrimony to a minimum.

“As a result, the collaborative process is often less stressful, confrontational and quicker than referring the matter to court.

“Also, unlike family mediation, your collaborative lawyer is present throughout for advice and support.

“While collaborative law is not suitable for every couple, in the right circumstances, it can help to resolve separation in a dignified, non-aggressive and child-focused way with the intention of keeping open a good relationship with your partner, especially if you have children.”

Jonathan Flower, partner and head of the family law team at Ward Hadaway, said: “Julia has worked extremely hard to secure this new accreditation, which adds another important dimension to the family law service which we can offer our clients to help them at what is often a difficult and stressful time in their lives.”

The Family Law team at Ward Hadaway deals with a very wide range of issues for clients ranging from divorce, issues for unmarried couples, adoption, domestic violence as well as disputes concerning children, including the involvement of local authorities.

The team’s work was highly praised in the latest edition of independent legal guide Legal 500, which described Ward Hadaway as “a go-to firm for matrimonial work”, adding that “Ward Hadaway’s family law knowledge is exceptional, and is bolstered with excellent team work".

* Find out more about our Family Law services.