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The Money and Divorce blog is brought to you by Intelligent Divorce, the new way to get fixed-fee specialist legal advice on splitting your money when you divorce.

Our blog provides illustrated practical guides for those going through the divorce process, plus news on divorce, money and family breakdown.

"I would like to let you know that I found your website so invaluable in my divorce process. I am having to represent myself due to lack of finances and I know for a fact I wouldn't have been able to do it had it not been for your fantastic website. I would recommend it to anyone who find themselves in a similar situation to me." Madeleine

31 October 2011

Blowing our own trumpet a bit ... and some thoughts on ADR

Mahie Abey
Normally on this blog I don’t talk about Intelligent Divorce or the people behind it. But I hope I will be forgiven for doing so today as there have been some fairly exciting (for us) things going on.

Both James Roberts and I have once again been ranked in the Chambers UK Guide. Chambers has been seen as the leading directory in the legal profession for more than 20 years, as it provides objective research and is a benchmark by which individual lawyers and firms are externally validated and recognised.

Chambers talks to our clients and then bases its rankings on what they are told. They said about us:

‘James Roberts is a popular choice for both children work and matrimonial finance. He is described as "thorough, responsive and a hugely accomplished courtroom performer."

‘Mahie Abey of Dawson Hart is "an extremely competent expert in matrimonial issues." Clients applaud his "highly professional approach which inspires confidence," and describe him as "intelligent and sensible, with an appropriate balance of sensitivity and pragmatism." His expertise covers all areas of family law.’

We are both very pleased to be ranked as leaders in our field. It is that experience and knowledge of what clients want that led us to create Intelligent Divorce. We both believe that, for the right people, it is a genuinely better option than more traditional methods of resolving family disputes.

On October 20th, the major Family Law conference (for family law professionals) of the year took place.  

Roger Bamber, a very well respected family solicitor and speaker, who later that evening won the award as Most Innovative Family Lawyer of the Year, gave a speech there entitled The Future of Family Law Practice. He devoted a section of his talk to new arrivals on to the family law market and talked about our site which he described as:

'…a good illustration of how to combine online services with personal support'

I think that summarises what we wanted to achieve when we initially came up with the idea for Intelligent Divorce. We thought the internet could be used to make the resolution of finances easier for people but recognised that they would continue to need support as they went through the process.

Enough about us (although sometimes you are allowed to blow your own trumpet, especially when what you have done is independently recognised as worthwhile and professional!).

Turning to more interesting issues I want once again to say how very important it is to resolve things with your ex-partner using some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). I had a round table meeting (i.e. ex-husband and wife, with a solicitor each) last week which shows just how much a difference they can make. 

My client (the wife) was on the verge of issuing proceedings but after almost 6 hours of negotiating we came to a settlement that satisfied the interests of both of the clients as far as possible. My client avoided further expensive, protracted legal proceedings which she really didn’t want, and got a settlement that she could live with. That was the key to that meeting – my client was realistic in her expectations and approach and able to keep focused on the issues, whilst at the same time able to be in the same room as her ex-husband, who she had not seen for some 10 months. A very impressive woman.

The whole process probably cost her £10,000 (plus VAT). I don't think this client could have used Intelligent Divorce from the start, because of communication issues she had with her husband. However if  she had been able to be as strong from the start of the process as she was in that meeting I think she could have faced negotiating directly with her ex-husband and so potentially saved herself significant sums. Better still if they had used Intelligent Divorce co-operatively they would have had the framework, legal advice and support necessary to guide them through the process - for a fraction of the cost!