FLiP Together: One Couple, One Lawyer – Solutions for Separating Couples

 

Appointing a single professional to work with you and your former partner is a considerable departure from what is current everyday practice for most family lawyers. But you may prefer it – for example, because:

  • You may consider that you are essentially in agreement about how you wish to work out your parenting arrangements or financial situation, and feel that this gives the best chance of doing it amicably and with dignity.
  • You may believe that such differences as you will run into are resolvable with the assistance of specialist advice and support from an experienced professional.
  • You may prefer to have advice which is aimed at your joint benefit or for the benefit of your family as a whole (especially if you are separating parents).
  • You may have a view that each of you having a lawyer increases the risk of conflict, which you want to avoid; and/or
  • You may be concerned that the cost of working individually with lawyers will have a detrimental effect on your available finances.

There are many potential upsides. But what is needed is a system that is robust and gives the best chance of a fair outcome whilst also protecting against one party seeking the one lawyer route as a means of:

  • Doing things ‘cheaply’, regardless of the risk.
  • Getting their own way.
  • Bullying their former partner.
  • Hiding information.

FLiP Together – One Couple, One Lawyer – is FLiP’s unique version of the wider One Couple, One Lawyer model, a model which has been approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

It seeks to make the benefits of the One Couple, One Lawyer approach available whilst protecting users against the potential risks. It is an alternative to other options, for example, mediation (where information and guidance is available but legal advice is given outside the process), or collaborative practice (a two-lawyer model).

All couples who are thinking of using FLiP Together will have individual meetings of around an hour with their chosen lawyer to discuss all the options, including the alternatives to FLiP Together – their up and downsides. 

Our FLiP Together lawyers are also qualified mediators, with significant experience of working with couples together within the mediation process. They bring this depth and breadth of experience of working with couples together to their work as FLiP Together lawyers.

FLiP Together: Is it Right for Me? →

FLiP Together will not be suitable for all couples. This might be the case, for instance, if:

  • There has been abuse in the relationship, where there are other safeguarding concerns or where there has been duress.
  • Emotions run high, there is conflict or any significant imbalance of power.
  • There are questions around drink, drugs or capacity.
  • There have been any unlawful acts or activities or these are contemplated.

FLiP Together will also need to stop if contested court proceedings are issued. This means there is no point in starting FLiP Together where these proceedings are needed unless it is to help you both to get oriented or refine and define the issues.

It may work to use FLiP Together as a way of getting started, even when you appreciate that you may need something else for one aspect of particular difficulty.

Each partner has a duty and an obligation to make it clear if any of the above aspects are present, and can only make use of FLiP Together where they are:

  • Looking to work amicably and by consensus.
  • Emotionally ready to address the transition to the next chapter.
  • Committed to working co-operatively and constructively.
  • Willing to volunteer and make easily accessible all the disclosure needed; and
  • Seeking a conclusion which is fair, just and in line with legal principles.

And you must sign an agreement that records all of the above. 

Where these requirements cease to be met during the process, we will work with you to find the best way forward for you to progress from that point onwards.

FLiP Together: A Step by Step Guide →

Stage one: Orientation

A brief intake discussion will take place, perhaps by phone – perhaps with you both.  We will share with you the form of the agreement that you will need to sign if you wish to progress further.

Stage two: Confidential Meetings

A careful – and confidential – options meeting will take place, when your questions about FLiP Together can be considered and alternatives that might suit you better will be looked at. You will talk through the goals you have and any worries about going forward in this way. If, however, both of you want to go forward in this way then the next stage is:

Stage three: Commitment

Each of you will sign the agreement:

  • Recording your commitments to operate ethically and to seek an outcome in line with the advice you receive.

Authorising – indeed requiring – the lawyer to share all that you subsequently disclose to them to the other person involved.

Stage four: Information-gathering

Now that you are clear about what you are trying to achieve and the residual points standing in the way, all the other information will be gathered. This is usually done in the same way as it is done at court (in financial matters, the form E with follow up questions and further disclosure) unless you agree otherwise.

Other agreed processes may get underway at this point such as, for example, the processing of a divorce and for many, couple or individual counselling will be underway.

Stage five: Referrals/discussion – including advice 

With emerging clarity as to the landscape, discussions to solve the residual areas can progress. Questions around parenting might sensibly be referred to mediation. Pension/company/tax or valuation questions might require input from those of other disciplines and a financial planner might be engaged for financial projections and investment guidance.

Either at the start, the middle or end of this stage, you are likely to be given detailed advice on the way that the law would see the resolution to these issues.  This will not be a pinpoint description of the outcome (because our law is designed to permit fairness by giving a range of sensible solutions rather than a single answer) but you will have guidance as to the approach of the court and the bracket of outcomes likely.

We are not there to negotiate for you but to help you to explore the issues and find the solution that appropriately answers your situation in line with the law. Failure to agree would mean discussion around the other ways forward for you in other processes often with another firm of lawyers.

Stage six: Finalisation

Where the overall package can be finalised in the FLiP Together model, then it will usually be written up into a formal package and submitted – after a cooling off period – to the court for approval.

Important to know:

  • At any stage you can obtain your own independent legal advice.
  • Throughout the process, fees are charged on an “as you go” basis.

FLiP Together: Find Out More →

If you would like to speak to a member of our team about FLiP Together, please contact Director James Pirrie on T: 020 7420 5000 or E: jp@flip.co.uk.

Our FLiP Together Specialists

 

Directors James Pirrie and David Allison are FLiP Together specalists and are also qualified mediators.

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