How to have a healthier divorce

January 3, 2020

Gordon Brown Law Firm’s Naomi Potter reveals alternative routes to dealing with differences in a face-to-face setting when a marriage ends

Deciding to end a relationship is never easy as it’s not just the emotional issues you need to worry about; it’s the practical ones too. It can be an upsetting time for everyone, particularly if there are children involved.

Mental health matters can make things even more complicated for families going through one of the most difficult life experiences they face. That’s where family law experts who are collaboratively trained, such as Gordon Brown Law Firm (GBLF), based in the Newcastle and Chester-le-Street offices. We help people achieve a healthier divorce for all concerned through the collaborative law process.

I am an accredited specialist with Resolution, a UK-wide group of family justice professionals who work with families and individuals to resolve issues constructively. I work with the family law team at GBLF on matrimonial finance and divorce cases, as well as complex family and property matters.

Mental health and wellbeing are becoming increasingly important in family law cases. A family breakdown or disagreements between parties can take their toll on mental health and combined with uncertainties around money. It can be a recipe for disaster, sometimes leading to dependence on alcohol, drugs or gambling.

I’ve had clients who have expressed feelings of anxiety and mental health issues because of litigation proceedings. It is our role as solicitors and advisors to ensure that clients can understand the proceedings and advice and more importantly, that they are able to process the information we give to them.

Sometimes clients give instructions based on their emotional feelings towards their former partner and these can sometimes be irrational or perplexing.

As solicitors, we need to be mindful as to someone’s mental state when advising them. A better way of achieving an agreement could be via a collaborative process.

As part of this process, each party appoints their own collaboratively trained lawyer and they work things out together, face-to-face by way of four or five-way meetings. The method is client-focused and each person can set their own agenda on the issues they want to discuss at the meetings.

The collaborative process means couples make a commitment not to go to court and that can take some of the stress out of divorce. Each individual can make their own decisions and communicate better with each other as a result.

It’s better for the children if they can see their parents working together to achieve an outcome and that in turn is better for the family.

As collaborative lawyers, we manage conflict and can involve others during the process as and when needed. This could be a family consultant, financial expert or collaborative counsel who make up the collaborative team. The collaborative process can also usually prove to be a quicker and cheaper option than going to court.

Divorce is an extremely stressful time for clients and therefore, it is vital that they take care of themselves and that we, as solicitors look out for them too in the best way possible.

Gordon Brown Law Firm

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