Reaching a private, negotiated agreement has many advantages; the parties in dispute can identify the most suitable solution(s) in the circumstances and can ensure that the agreement is workable for both sides in practice. Additionally, this approach can also often, but not always, result in a significant reduction in the emotional and financial costs arising. From a practical viewpoint, where children are involved, self determined agreements are also often more likely to work in the longer term. Importantly where issues are negotiated and resolved between the parties, it can be easier and quicker to resolve other issues that may arise in the future.

It can be helpful to seek legal advice or information before starting the negotiation process to ensure that parties are fully informed of their rights before making any decisions or entering into any agreements. Obtaining legal advice or information does not mean that you have to get involved in the court process.

The negotiation process may need the assistance of trained professionals. The circumstances of the dispute, and the capacity of the parties to engage with each other may dictate the nature of this intervention and support.  The negotiation process is typically aided by mediation, but more complicated or even less amicable circumstances may necessitate the involvement of legal professionals, starting with a solicitor for each party. Engaging a solicitor does not mandate court proceedings and the solicitors for each party can act on behalf of his/her client to negotiate the resolution of whatever dispute has arisen. Where an agreement is negotiated, it can be legally formalised and/or made an order of court with the assistance of a solicitor.

For more information


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