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April is Stress Awareness Month, and as family lawyers, we frequently help people who are struggling with a variety of challenging problems, both emotional and otherwise, when a relationship has ended. One issue that frequently raises concern is the arrangements for any children of the partnership to have contact with the non-resident parent. 

Children with parents living in different houses are currently permitted to switch between those two homes under Scottish law. “For separated families, this means that if there is a court order or formal agreement in place, the arrangements which it sets out should be adhered to, unless you and the other person with parental responsibilities have agreed to alternative arrangements, or you are concerned that compliance with the arrangements would compromise the safety of yourself, your child, or your household,” the Lord President in Scotland has made clear. 

It would be advisable to document any agreed-upon changes to the contact arrangements in a note, email, or text message. The Lord President has also stated that “parents should bear in mind that, if their actions are challenged by the other parent in court, the court will consider whether each parent has acted reasonably, fairly, and in accordance with the Government guidance in place at the time” when a dispute arises over acting in accordance with a court order and one parent unilaterally changes the arrangement to one they consider to be safe in the circumstances.

Alternative plans should be arranged, such as using Zoom, Facetime, or another virtual video connection, if contact cannot be maintained, it is also advised.

Family lawyers can help when contact-related difficulties come up. The options listed below are some of the ways to resolve conflicts of this sort without going to court. The last option is to go to court.

Ways of coping with stress

Negotiation

This may entail emails between the attorneys involved as well as joint meetings between the parties and their individual attorneys. All of this is done in an effort to settle the disagreement as quickly as feasible. Negotiation, like other forms of ADR, gives parties some measure of influence over the dissolution of their marriage rather than handing this over to a judge who is unfamiliar with either party or the couple’s children.

Mediation

Clients who are going through a divorce are frequently referred to mediation. An accredited legal mediator or a non-lawyer mediator can mediate a dispute. This method of dispute resolution is particularly useful when it comes to youngsters. When contact with an ex-spouse has deteriorated, mediation offers a “safe” setting where issues can be brought up in front of the mediator, who is an impartial third party. Each participant has the opportunity to voice their opinion during respectful and open discussions. Although the mediator won’t resolve the conflict, she can help to promote communication, comprehension, and ultimately agreement without going to court.

There will be a first intake meeting where each party can express their worries and expectations for the mediation process to the mediator. After that, several collaborative mediation sessions will take place. At the conclusion of the process, a summary of what has been agreed upon is prepared, and this can be formalized in writing by the parties respective attorneys. Parties are allowed to consider many options because any conversations that occur during mediation are private and cannot be brought up in court.

Virtual mediations are an option.

Collaborative process

Disputes about contact, for example, can be resolved via the collaborative method if a relationship has broken down. To address issues, trained Collaborative attorneys will use this novel approach with their clients. The unique aspect of this approach is that both the clients and their attorneys sign a contract at the commencement promising not to file a lawsuit. It is a promise to be open, honest, and forthcoming in all interactions, which take place with clients and attorneys present. Only attorneys who have received collaborative training are eligible to take part in this process. Input from qualified financial advisors and qualified counselors can also be helpful to clients. 

This strategy places the consumers at the center of the procedure and empowers them to come up with original solutions to their conflicts. It encourages everyone involved in the process to concentrate on their shared interests and develop a solution that is best for them and their families. This is crucial when there are problems with the care arrangements for any children of the partnership, which is especially significant.

Collaboration meetings can also be held online.

Arbitration

Another way for partners to settle disagreements after a relationship ends is through arbitration. A family law arbitrator, who is basically a private judge, can be chosen by the parties to decide their disagreement. They can work out a time and location for arbitration that works for both parties. The process is often speedier than the judicial process and is also confidential. The arbitrator’s ruling is binding on the parties in a court of law. This procedure can be carried out virtually as well.

The family law team at Complete Clarity Solicitors is equipped to offer professional guidance on all facets of divorce and separation. We have a variety of Collaboratively educated lawyers and authorised family law mediators that can help you, in addition to an arbitrator.