One solicitor for one separating couple – Resolution Together aims to reduce costs, minimise conflict and give families a better experience.
There is an increasing effort from those working in the family justice system to bring a fresh perspective to meeting the needs of separating families and improving their experiences while keeping the welfare of children as its central focus. As such, family solicitors are looking at out of court options to offer separating families a better experience.
Traditionally, family solicitors have had to tell separating couples that they each have to have their own solicitor to prevent any conflict of interest This stems from a solicitor’s regulatory duty to act in their client’s best interests. However, following the introduction of the new no fault divorce in April 2022 whereby spouses can, for the first time ever, issue a joint application for divorce, there is need for positive change. It is anticipated that demand for this type of working will increase.
Resolution, the community of family justice professionals committed to resolving issues in a constructive way, is therefore launching a new initiative called Resolution Together which would enable one solicitor to act for one couple. This would offer the parties an opportunity to work together with one solicitor to reach a fair and reasonable agreement that both parties agree to be bound by.
Resolution has liaised with the Solicitor Regulations Authority to ensure its model operates within current regulations. A solicitor can act for both parties where there is no significant risk of a conflict arising. This approach won’t be right for everyone, and those couples who want to explore this method of working must be committed to resolving arrangements without conflict.
There are some stipulations if parties wish to consider using this process, for example, the solicitor must ensure that neither party is being put under any pressure by the other, the couple must give their informed consent to using this process and the solicitor acting must be satisfied that it would be reasonable to act for both parties.
It is important to note that if an agreement cannot be reached or if a conflict arises during the process, then both parties must find alternative legal advice as the solicitor who acted for both parties could not just act for one of the parties moving forward.
This new way of working would certainly promote transparency with clear legal advice being given in the presence of both parties to achieve a fair outcome. It is also anticipated that the costs spent will be reduced along with the length of time it would take to complete the process.
Further guidance is expected to be handed down from Resolution over the summer months.