Resolution Together is a new procedure for resolving the various issues which arise following the breakdown of a relationship or marriage. It can be used to settle disputes about finances and the future arrangements for children.
The procedure involves the parties jointly instructing one lawyer who will advise them together in a series of joint meetings. The aim is to help them reach agreements about how their financial assets should be shared and what arrangements should be made for their children.
Although the process is similar to mediation, the parties will receive legal advice from the jointly appointed lawyer and they will not be separately represented. This marks a completely new way of working and comes after the implementation of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act – legislation that allows parties to issue joint petitions to end their marriage. It is hoped this new procedure will reduce conflict and the need for court intervention.
Who will it work for?
Relationships break down for a variety of reasons and there are always two sides to the story. Resolution Together will involve the parties receiving joint advice and, as such, it will not suit everyone. The parties will need to work together and throughout the process they will need to share the overriding aim of reaching an agreement which is fair to both parties, and which meets both their needs and the needs of their children, now and in the future.
How will it work?
The process will begin with the parties attending either an individual or a joint meeting, where they receive advice about the procedure and the steps that need to be taken. If it’s a joint meeting, at some stage the parties will be required to meet the lawyer individually, so that the lawyer can ensure it is appropriate and safe for them to proceed within the process. This will also give the parties the opportunity to decide if they feel Resolution Together is appropriate for them and their individual circumstances. If all parties are happy, they’ll sign an agreement confirming that, and the process will continue.
The subsequent meetings will be tailored to the circumstances of each case. Any information passed on in an individual meeting or in the absence of the other party will need to be shared. Throughout the process other professionals can be relied on to provide independent advice and to set out options. If at any point working jointly becomes inappropriate or unsafe or unlikely to result in an agreement, the lawyer will discuss other options for the parties. If an agreement is reached, an order can be prepared and submitted to the court for approval in the usual way.
This is the latest development in what is an exciting time for Family Law. I hope it will prevent parties becoming positional and will provide another accessible option to avoid the acrimony and cost of court proceedings. In contrast to court, Resolution Together gives parties control of the process. They can agree settlements that are in the best interests of them both, as well as in the best interests of any children they might have. The process has potential to help people resolve their issues constructively and even build a better relationship for the future.