Is it a Costly and Lengthy Process to Settle Matrimonial Disputes with Mediation or Collaborative Law?

Following on from my previous Blogs, I now come to the final few questions about these methods of dispute resolution - Peter Flint has been extremely helpful in providing a clear picture as to how Mediation and Collaborative differ, and how they can help make a painful process easier to cope with.

Firstly I wanted Peter to explain typically how long would it take to settle a matrimonial dispute using one of these methods?

He replied "It of course depends upon the complexity of the particular case.  I have carried out mediations where the clients have reached an agreement during the course of the first meeting, and other mediations involving complex issues where it has taken 5 or 6 meetings for an agreement to be reached.  The “norm” so far as mediation is concerned is generally about 3 meetings. 

"With regard to collaborative law, again the norm would be 2 or 3 meetings, although it is perfectly possible for an agreement to be reached at the end of one meeting (albeit a meeting which may well have lasted a whole day!)"

The all important question followed!  What about cost?  I understand lengthy Court processes can be expensive, but if mediators and collaborative lawyers are fully trained, qualified individuals, surely this cannot be a particularly cheap option either?

Peter explained "The costs involved in resolving financial disputes through Court proceedings could well be in the region of £6,000.00 - £8,000.00 for each Client (again of course depending upon the complexities of the case).  Mediators charging rates are generally speaking lower than solicitors charging rates, and the work which is carried out outside of the mediation meetings is considerably less than the work which is required during the course of Court proceedings, relating either to resolving financial issues or arrangements for children. 

"It is fair to say that adopting the collaborative law model can be a fairly costly exercise and not necessarily more cost effective than going through the Courts.  Again, much depends upon the issues involved in the case.  I would however emphasise that costs should not necessarily be the overriding principal.  What really matters is the clients being able to reach an agreement on an amicable basis which they are satisfied is fair for both of them, and in doing so, will greatly benefit their children in the future."

My final question to Peter; If someone is interested in seeking legal assistance through one of these means, how do they go about finding a lawyer who can assist, and is there anything they need to be aware of?  (eg with collaborative law you mentioned to me that the other side has to be a trained collaborative lawyer too)?

Peter says "In collaborative law, the lawyers acting for both clients must be fully trained collaborative lawyers.  Details can be found on the internet or by way of enquiries made with Resolution (formerly known as the Solicitors Family Law Association).  Similar enquiries will lead to details of the mediation services available for the particular area, or alternatively the clients respective solicitors will be able to recommend a local mediation service."

If you would like more information about either of these methods of matrimonial dispute resolution, contact Peter Flint, Colin Spanner or Lisa Grimmett - all of who are fully trained Collaborative Lawyers.  Peter is also a fully trained mediator.