So Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are to divorce according to the press and social media. Their divorce, like their relationship and marriage, will be the focus of huge media attention. How can they resolve important issues concerning the divorce, the finances and crucially the children in the best way possible?

Here are the options:-

Collaborative law

Brad and Angelina would appoint lawyers who instead of conducting negotiations by letter and going to court, would meet face-to-face with Brad and Angelina in a series of meetings to find constructive lasting solutions to issues concerning the finances and the children. If needed expert help from counsellors, financial advisers, accountants and divorce coaches can be brought in. Brad and Angelina will set the agenda and with the help of their lawyers and other professionals, find solutions which enable them to move forward. Collaborative law is one of the best ways of minimising conflict and preparing a framework by which Brad and Angelina could communicate and play a joint role in their children’s lives despite being separated. Collaborative lawyers are specially trained, not only as expert family lawyers, but also with negotiation and mediation skills.

All meetings are completely confidential and the press cannot demand access to the meetings or the documents. Satisfaction feedback from those who have undertaken collaborative law is very high.

Mediation

Brad and Angelina could in conjunction with their lawyers appoint a mediator to help them resolve difficult issues between them concerning the children and finances. Mediators are specifically trained to deal in conflict management and assist the parties in finding solutions. Mediators are independent and impartial. Mediators cannot give legal advice and cannot make decisions. Mediators would facilitate Brad and Angelina in exploring each other’s positions, different options and the various ways forwards. As with collaborative law, counsellors, divorce coaches and financial experts can be drafted in to assist with particular aspects. Angelina and Brad would stay close to their family lawyers during this process so that they had the benefit of legal advice and support. Mediation is confidential.

Going to Court

Either Angelina or Brad could issue applications with the court to resolve issues concerning the children and the finances and not just the divorce itself. Such cases are conducted in accordance with procedural rules and family law. The advantage of court litigation is that at the end of the day the judge will make a decision and impose a judgment and order. However, this may not be a solution which suits either party and court proceedings can be very stressful and take many months to resolve. Also the press can ask to sit in during the court process and report what happens. This can be difficult, challenging and embarrassing for Brad and Angelina as well as their children.

Arbitration

If both Brad and Angelina agree to appoint an arbitrator, then they can choose a particular arbitrator who will make a binding decision about issues that Brad and Angelina choose to refer to the arbitrator. Arbitrators are usually very experienced solicitors, barristers or retired judges. The process is more informal than the court process and substantially quicker and cheaper. However, at the end of the day, the arbitrator is imposing a decision which might not be as good as a decision negotiated by Brad and Angelina in collaborative law or mediation.

Arbitrators, if suitably trained, can deal with both children and finance issues. Arbitration is confidential and the press are not allowed to view the process.

DIY

Brad and Angelina could simply dispense with the courts and lawyers and try and resolve matters between themselves. If they succeed then that may be fine, however without the benefit of legal advice in the first place, neither Brad nor Angelina will know what the law is and what the likely legal outcomes are. Secondly separating couples tend to find it extremely difficult to talk constructively about issues such as the children and finance despite on the face of it a keenness to do so. That is after all probably one of the main reasons why they have split up in the first place. Expert collaborative family lawyers and family law mediators are skilled at ensuring separating couples are able to talk about important issues and crucially listen and understand what the other person’s point of view is.

Brad and Angelina have chosen to go to court. Angelina is apparently not making a financial claim but is asking the court to decide issues concerning the children.

Many couples who have undertaken mediation and collaborative law find that it is far more effective, produces better solutions, is less stressful and far cheaper and quicker than any other process.