In the first of a new series of blogs, we explore whether it is possible to stay amicable during the painful process of divorce.

The Dilemma

My husband and I have agreed that our 12-year marriage is at an end. Although we haven’t had one almighty big bust up, we are fighting a lot, and it’s only going to get worse as we enter divorce proceedings.  We own a house together, as well as the usual fixtures and fittings, and four years ago we bought a holiday home in Spain - I think we both thought that this might help us solve some of our problems. Although we don’t have kids, I’m very close to his family, especially his mother, and I’d like to maintain a relationship with her after we are divorced, so I want to try to be as amicable as possible. However, I also want to make sure I get my fair share of our joint investments. How can we get through a divorce without our extended family life falling apart due to our battles in court?

Divorce Doctor Gillian Crandles says:

It’s always sad when a marriage comes to an end, but thankfully there is a way of conducting proceedings that is designed to make the situation a bit less distressing.

A growing number of divorces are now being done via a process known as collaborative law, brought to the UK from America, and it’s a growing movement in Scotland. The cornerstone of the process is that the separating couple agree from the outset not to go to court, and seek to avoid as far as possible the emotional and financial damage that a divorce can involve.

Collaborative law is a way to avoid court, which can often be combative and cause what could have been an amicable negotiation to break down. You and your husband would both need to sign up to this route, which basically agrees that your divorce will be arranged through a series of face-to-face round the table meetings, as opposed to via the courts and the rolling exchange of lawyers letters - which can raise the temperature of divorce proceedings pretty quickly. 

At these meetings, you would negotiate your divorce together with the help of any appropriate advisers, such as specially trained lawyers and financial advisers to help you agree the terms - including what happens to your joint investments. For example, an adviser with specific experience of selling property abroad could be useful for you. Counsellors can also become involved if you need them. Although you don’t have children, those that do can involve experts specifically to look after their needs too. 

The responsibility to make decisions about your post-divorce lives would be retained by you and your husband, and not the court - hopefully this way you have a better chance of maintaining the relationships you value. At the end of the process, which usually involves perhaps three to four meetings, your divorce itself can be finalised on an agreed basis in your local Sheriff Court, and without the need for any court appearance.

Collaborative cases usually take a lot less time than traditional lawyer led negotiations, and certainly less than litigation, which can take years depending on the level of value of the case, the complexity of the issues involved and the animosity between the parties.  

To start the collaborative law process, you need to contact a lawyer trained in this specialist area. The Scottish Collaborative Family Law Group provides a list of all of them at

Gillian Crandles is a divorce and family law expert at Turcan Connell. She is trained in collaborative law and a member of the Scottish Collaborative Family Law Group.  

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