Sorting out a financial settlement on divorce can be complicated and this can especially be the case for farming families, where the personal and the business are often deeply entwined. However, this does not mean that this has to be a sorted out in a long, expensive and stressful court battle. There are several ways in which husbands and wives can seek to agree settlements without going to court and we find that one of the most successful, and one of the best suited to a farming background, is to use the Collaborative Process. Here, both parties and their solicitors agree that they will work together to try to find the best settlement for the whole family, and especially for any children. All negotiations take place at “4 way meetings” at which the husband and wife discuss possible settlement terms supported by their solicitors. This means that there is far less correspondence between solicitors that more traditional negotiations, which helps to keep legal costs down! Also, unlike mediation, as the solicitors are present at the meetings advice on the law can be given immediately a point arises. In farming cases it will sometimes be necessary to bring in other professional to assist, such as accountants or pension experts, and in the Collaborative Process they can be invited to come to meetings to give their input direct rather than having to be instructed separately in writing. This of course saves considerable time. As farming businesses are often family enterprises, including not just one or both of the divorcing couple but also other family members it is possible in the Collaborative Process for the other affected members of the family to be involved in the negotiations, if this is agreed. The whole emphasis of the Collaborative approach is that it is the couple who are in charge of finding the best settlement for their family and as such it is a far more flexible way of achieving settlement than by an application to the court.
If you feel that the Collaborative Process may be able to help you and for more information please contact Alastair MacLeod.