27 Sep 2016

Does the bitter end always have to be bitter?

Does the bitter end always have to be bitter?

Following the shock announcement that Brad Pitt and Angelica Jolie are to split, our family law expert Ruth Aberdein explores the alternatives to an acrimonious parting.

Following the shock announcement that Brad Pitt and Angelica Jolie are to split, our family law expert Ruth Aberdein explores the alternatives to an acrimonious parting.

Brad and Angelina’s announcement caught the world by surprise on Tuesday – and it already appears that their parting of ways could become mired in public allegations and scandal.

When a couple separate, the prospect of having intimate details of their private lives, finances and children discussed in court can often be unappealing.

In addition, if a court action is raised, it can be disconcerting to the parties to know that an element of control will be lost, whether that relates to the future care arrangements for children, the division of the matrimonial property, or both, as the judge will make the ultimate decision if agreement cannot be reached.

However, a dignified and respectful end to a relationship is possible.

In Scotland, more and more people are turning to alternative methods of dispute resolution.

I would suggest that alternatives such as collaborative family law and family mediation should be considered in all family law cases, as they promote effective communication and cooperation between separating couples and can help preserve family relationships for the future.  

To my mind, such co-operation and communication is crucial where there are children – as there are in the case of ‘Brangelina’.

Collaborative law is an option if you don't want to delegate certain decisions about your future, such as child care and finances, to the court.

This approach involves both parties instructing their own lawyers, who will work directly with parties and commit to negotiating an out of court settlement by means of ‘round the table’ meetings.

Mediation is another method of resolving disputes without recourse to adversarial processes. 

Mediation provides an impartial forum for parties to discuss disputed issues. The trained mediator is usually a single individual, but there are models of co-mediation where mediators work together to assist parties to a dispute reach a resolution. 

The mediator’s role is not to give legal advice to either party, but rather to facilitate negotiation and an amicable settlement.

The road Brad and Angelina are about to walk down is a well-trodden one – but despite the early exchange of allegations, it need not be a bitter one.

Ruth Aberdein is accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as a Family Law Mediator and a member of CALM Scotland. She is also ranked by the Legal 500 as one of Scotland’s leading family lawyers


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