There’s no doubt that that come early 2018, divorce will feature heavily in newspaper articles and on TV reports right across the UK. After all, it’s well recognised that Christmas tends to preclude a seasonal busy period for divorce lawyers.

Unfortunately, there is truth in the cliché and there are often a number of reasons for this. Some couples will have experienced problems for weeks or months in the run up to December, but decide to ‘see how Christmas goes’ before making any decisions about the future. This is often particularly the case where there are children of the relationship. For others, the festive season brings forgotten or hidden tensions to the surface, causing stress or arguments that come to a head during the holiday period.

A stressful Christmas can mean that for many people, January is a time for reassessing, thinking about the future, and often; taking initial legal advice. Individuals may find themselves speaking to a solicitor in the new year to understand their options, because they’ve decided to seek a divorce, or following receipt of divorce proceedings.

What many people don’t realise, as they seek legal advice, is that there is an alternative to the traditional divorce process. A collaborative law divorce provides a different way of separating, and can help couples to split in an amicable manner.

A collaborative law divorce enables both parties to sit around a table and discuss the best way to manage their separation. These discussions can cover things like arrangements for splitting or disposing of shared property, shares, investments and pensions; and other hugely important matters such as childcare and ongoing contact.

Collaborative lawyers are specially trained to help clients to deal with the end of their relationship in a calm and non-combative way. They are also dedicated to seeking to avoid the bitter disputes which can arise when a judge is asked to decide upon the separation of assets, and/or childcare arrangements.

There are a variety of benefits in using a collaborative lawyer. One of these is that the process is, in essence, about encouraging the parties to reach agreement themselves as to the fundamentals of their divorce – thus avoiding a lot of the court procedures typically expected in a divorce. This can help the parties feel that they have been able to retain control over what will happen to them, their assets and their children. This often encourages a greater degree of openness between the parties, which can lead to greater levels of trust and a willingness between exes to negotiate and compromise.

Another benefit of the collaborative law approach is the flexibility of the arrangements that can be reached, which are often much more appropriate to a divorcing couple than the options available to a judge to order. For example, it’s possible to agree to keep all arrangements entirely confidential, something that may be difficult to guarantee in a court-led divorce.

If you are thinking about your options post-Christmas, you may wish to consider including an early appointment with a collaborative lawyer. They will be able to provide you with more information about the collaborative process, and whether it is appropriate for your individual circumstances.