Deal - or no Deal?

05 FEB 2010

District Judge PETER JOLLY

Encouragement has quite properly been given to the speedy processing of financial agreements reached through the process of collaborative law. Following an initiative by Coleridge J, in S v P (Settlement by Collaborative Law Process) [2008] 2 FLR 2040, a case that in fact involved an unmarried couple, these agreements can be fast-tracked in High Court cases. County courts are challenged to offer equivalent facilities for divorcing couples. If spouses have resolved their respective differences in an adult and conciliatory fashion, the sooner the court can approve the agreement, and it can be implemented, the better.

The reasons are obvious. Most parties are better able to move on in their lives once litigation is concluded. Legal costs cease and were one party to have second thoughts about the wisdom of the concluded deal or feel a sudden pang of jealousy at the new person in the life of their former spouse, or feel peeved at the apparent breakdown in child contact, an agreement perfected and implemented is more difficult to unscramble. The purpose of this article is not to examine grounds and procedures for upsetting agreements and orders, merely to highlight the desirability of prompt perfection of any negotiated settlement, to reduce the likelihood of delay.

And what goes for settlements agreed through collaborative law applies no less to those reached after conventional inter-solicitor negotiation. So how do you avoid the frustration of your draft consent order being bounced by your local district judge, and the embarrassment of having to refer back to your client for further information when they believe 'all is settled'?

To read the rest of this article, see February [2010] Family Law journal.

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