Partner Lorna Bennie will attend the 4th European Collaborative Conference ‘Creating Consensus’. The conference takes place today and tomorrow (1st & 2nd June 2012) at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.
As well as family law practitioners, the event will also be attended by non-legal professionals such as accountants and mental health professionals interested in a collaborative approach to common and difficult family law issues.
Craig Samson, the conference Chairman said:
“The rise in collaboration in Scotland as a means of reducing conflict and allowing parents to tailor child-focused arrangements for the benefit of their family is hugely encouraging.”While still relatively few solicitors are trained to practise collaboratively, we are seeing an increasing number of referrals from solicitors whose clients want a better way to resolve their issues.”The impact of separation upon children and families could be improved by encouraging greater co-operation and less conflict to help people work through the difficulties. It also allows them to keep greater control over the decision-making process.“
Currently, there are around 12,000 divorces a year in Scotland, many of which involve children. Clearly, the impact of divorce on children can be severe – children may feel they are in some way to blame, or even that their parent is divorcing them too. Children are also commonly trapped in the middle of familial breakdown. A collaborative approach to divorce and dissolution of family units can help combat this.
The collaborative approach is founded upon mutual respect and a shared understanding of the best interest of all parties. The traditional adversarial approach is rejected in favour of a process of negotiation and discussion which is based on openness. For instance, it is common for both parties to the divorce to sign a binding agreement that they will disclose all documents relevant to the process from the outset. This largely reduces the threat of litigation and the ‘tactical bargaining’ that goes hand in hand with divorce.The onus is on solicitors to guide the process. Often four-way meetings with clients are conducted to talk through the issues. The commitment is to reaching agreement at the expense of (often expensive) litigation.
This process obviously requires a shift in the mindset of the legal practitioners involved. To this end, the conference is offering training courses to equip lawyers with the skills necessary to effectively adopt a collaborative approach. The training this year includes: basic and refresher courses, advocacy and negotiation skills workshops, technology workshops, lectures on multi-disciplinary approaches – including psychology and neurobiology and discussions on ethics. Clearly a significant shift from the traditional approach to divorce!
For more information on the conference click here.