A number of celebrity couples have provided a very public reminder of how bitter divorce can become. Heather Mills appeared in an unfortunate interview on GMTV. John Cleese is reportedly writing a one man show – “Alimony Tour Year One” - following his wife’s £8 million cash (plus maintenance) divorce settlement. Peter Andre and Katie Price’s divorce was played out in the press for many months before reaching its penultimate stage on 8 September. Would mediation or collaborative law have lessened the bitterness between them?
The Justice Minister, Bridget Prentice, is discussing ways to increase the number of divorces referred to mediation. Mediation entails a series of meetings chaired by a trained mediator. It assists the couple in reaching agreement regarding their divorce, division of their finances and issues surrounding their children. The parties can obtain legal advice, in the background, to assist with the process and to advise whether any agreement reached is reasonable.
However, it is important to ensure one party does not feel disadvantaged if the other has greater financial knowledge. Mediation can also be particularly difficult where there are issues of domestic violence.
Collaborative law involves the parties and their solicitors confirming they will not start contested court proceedings to resolve issues within their divorce; they will settle them in a series of meetings. Collaborative lawyers receive specialist training to help the case progress in a constructive and non-confrontational way. The couple retains control. They choose what is discussed, where and when.
There are a number of methods available to resolve issues arising from divorce. It is important that couples are able to make informed choices as to which route best suits them. This should ensure that the divorce is obtained as quickly, cheaply and painlessly as possible.