New research at Aston medical school in Birmingham has found that those with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are more likely to live longer if they are married than those who are single. Last year the same team found that those who are married are more likely to survive a heart attack. Conversely, studies have also shown that a stressful marriage can increase the risk of a heart attack or a stroke, and a study in 2009 by the University of Chicago found that those who are divorced or widowed are more likely to experience health issues.
The use of the collaborative practice can help to relieve the stress associated with the divorce process. This practice was imported from the USA and has been used in Scotland for a number of years. Whilst this approach is unsuitable for some couples (where, for instance, there has been a history of violence) it can work well where there is a willingness to work together to resolve issues, especially where they have children.
If a couple agree that they wish to collaborate, they will each require to instruct a collaboratively trained lawyer. All parties must sign up to an agreement at the beginning of the process confirming that they will be open and honest with one another and making clear that they will not instruct their lawyers to raise a court action. Thereafter there are a series of four way meetings in order to determine the issues arising from the separation. It is possible to bring in a neutral financial advisor and/or family counsellors (who must also be collaboratively trained) to assist the couple. The process allows parties to adopt a creative approach and to craft a bespoke agreement.
Whilst the collaborative approach may not be suitable for all couples, that does not mean that there should be a rush to court. Litigation is the last resort. Traditional negotiation (either through correspondence or in meetings between the parties and their respective solicitors) is the most common way in which to resolve the matters arising from a separation.
It is also open to parties to appoint a lawyer mediator to determine matters (or one particular issue). The use of family arbitration is also becoming increasingly common. An arbitrator is essentially a private judge instructed by the parties to make a legally binding decision.