Farming divorces and collaborative law – a better way
Sorting out a financial settlement on divorce can be complicated, especially for farming families whose personal and business affairs are often inextricably entwined. However, this does not mean that it can only be resolved through an expensive and stressful court battle.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) offers several different ways of potentially settling family conflict without going to court. We find that one of the most successful forms of ADR and one best suited to farming divorces is the collaborative process.
Collaboration involves both parties and their collaboratively trained solicitors agreeing that they will work together to try to find the best settlement for the whole family; especially for any children. All negotiations take place at “four-way meetings” in which the husband and wife, supported by their solicitors, discuss possible settlement terms This means that there is far less correspondence between solicitors than traditional negotiations, which helps to keep legal costs down! Also, unlike mediation, the solicitors are present at the meetings, so advice is available should a legal point arise.
In farming cases, it will sometimes be necessary to bring in other professionals to assist, such as accountants or pension experts, and in the collaborative process they can be invited to attend the meetings to give their input direct rather than being instructed separately in writing. This obviously saves considerable time.
As farming businesses are often family enterprises, involving not just one or both spouses but also the wider family, it is possible for the other affected family members to be involved in the collaborative negotiations, if agreed.
The whole emphasis of the collaborative approach is that the couple is 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 court application.