Why privacy matters

Anna WorwoodAnna Worwood explains the benefits of collaborative law for high-profile people, and the rest of us.

I’ve specialised in helping families through the legal aspects of separation and divorce for nearly 15 years now, and during that time I’ve been able to work with numerous high-profile, international people in the resolution of their most private and personal circumstances. For many of them, and indeed for a great number of my clients overall, privacy and confidentiality is at the forefront of their minds when considering their options for resolving their disputes about money, property or children during divorce or separation.

Privacy is unfortunately not guaranteed if you take a financial dispute to the family court. Currently, some judges are more inclined to hear a case in public than in private, and even to allow journalists to report details, which leaves those who need recourse to the court playing Russian Roulette with their personal information and hoping that the judge who hears the case will allow them a greater, rather than lesser, degree of privacy. While we all wait for the Court of Appeal to clarify the precise position regarding the confidentiality of family financial proceedings, and possibly even after they do, staying out of court is the only true way to ensure that sensitive details are kept private during this most stressful of times.

In most family law cases, whether about children or about money, court should not be the option of first resort. For those going through a difficult divorce, the lengthy process fraught with delay, the comparatively high cost of litigation, and the likelihood of final decisions that don’t meet the unique needs of the family are just three reasons why we tend to suggest alternatives to court wherever possible. Another good reason to consider alternatives is that when you enter mediation, collaborative law or arbitration in order to get a resolution of your dispute, the confidentiality of the information you share is guaranteed. Nobody other than those who take part in the process at your invitation will be privy to your personal details.

Collaborative law has other significant advantages when compared with court: it is a much kinder process to all concerned, enabling a true focus on the interests of the children where relevant, and allowing former partners openly to discuss their hopes and needs for the future rather than focusing on fixed positions, while being supported throughout by their chosen lawyers. The flexible, creative process of collaborative law means that there is much more likely to be a tolerable, workable solution for the family achieved in a costs-controlled manner. Whether you’re an international megastar, an ordinary Jo/e or somewhere in between, collaborative law is worth a look.

Anna.worwood@penningtons.co.uk