A civilised separation

Our Head of Family Julie Slater-Williams sets out how we work with clients and other professionals to avoid high conflict, stressful and costly proceedings:

At Keelys, our ethos is always to try and resolve issues in as amicable way as possible.  We are specifically trained that way as members of Resolution and by being Collaboratively trained.  What does that look like in reality?  Below are all the ways that we, as experienced family Lawyers, work for your benefit:

  • Better communication.  We try and speak directly to the other professionals involved in your case, and particularly the other Lawyer.  We want to establish a connection with the Lawyers we work with.  We find that this helps matters to progress quicker and with less stress to our clients. 
  • Knowing how other solicitors work and not pre judging them.  We have ‘difficult’ cases from time to time, where points of law cannot be agreed upon.  Communication and negotiation can only help our clients.   We do not want to increase hostilities.
  • Not litigating issues by correspondence.  If there is a difference on a point of law, we will seek to move the matter forward to a resolution.  We will tell our clients what our differences are and explain how we are going to progress things.  This is the best way for Lawyers to work together to keep the costs and stress down to our clients.
  • We consider mediation and collaborative law for all cases.  The advice is the same but in a different way, which may help all parties to feel more in control and part of the process.
  • Getting people together will often help matters to move on.  If there are cases when this is not appropriate, we can do a hybrid arrangement, where parties are with their lawyers or mediators in separate rooms.  We are always trying to maximise the chances of settling.
  • We avoid clients being left in limbo.  We always try to have dates for things to be done by and stick to it.  Fees are clear and clients feel in control.
  • We have connections with other professionals who may be able to offer extra services or support, such as a neutral financial / pensions advisors, a family therapist or a child psychologist who could (with agreement of the parents) meet with the child to discuss their wishes and feelings.
  • We provide detailed information to clients about the processes and options available to them.  We have diagrams and videos that can explain things in user friendly ways so that our clients are fully informed of the options including the likely costs of each option.
  • We try and stay away from legal jargon and labels and focus instead on the purpose of what’s happening and why.
  • We know that we have a responsibility to explain the options and benefits.  Our clients expect us to be client focused and know what their priorities are.  We will be seeking this when we meet with you so that we can agree an approach together.  We will guide you and revisit the options throughout the case. 
  • We think practically and laterally.  We revisit all options before progressing to court – bearing in mind costs and ensuring that our clients are fully informed and kept up to date with the options however the case progresses.
  • Sometimes cases do need a judgment on a point of law which cannot be agreed on.  We can look at ways that this can be dealt with outside of Court through arbitration if possible or at a private FDR.
  • We use the Surrey initiative where possible, where we write to say that we intend to issue proceedings 2-4 weeks before we do so, and propose alternatives – this shows that we can demonstrate that we are trying to settle, and if the other Lawyer does not engage, we can give a costs warning.
  • We keep on top of the guidance to Lawyers which is constantly being updated and new innovations suggested, so that we can pass this on to our clients.

We know how stressful separation is.  We also know what can often help to ease the process and progress our clients to the other side of it. 

It is useful to know that there are currently around 18,000 Lawyers working in family Law in the UK.  Only 1,200 are collaborative lawyers – the vast majority of Lawyers are therefore not trained the way that we are at Keelys – give yourself the best chance of a civilised separation with us. If you need any advice or information please do not hesitate to contact us on 01543420000 or by email: jslater-williams@keelys.co.uk

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