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Keep options open for divorcing couples

While the collaborative family practice (CFP) scheme can be suitable for some parties dealing with divorce, most parties may be better served by keeping their options open throughout the divorce process ("Less combative ways to resolve matrimonial disputes" by Ms Michelle Woodworth; March 13).

The fact is that there are unreasonable spouses. That could be why one side wants a divorce in the first place.

The risk is that under the CFP scheme, there is too much pressure on the parties to settle, especially since the same lawyers are not allowed to represent the same clients in litigation.

Pressure may also come from the legal fees for CFP, which are fixed at $428 an hour. If one spouse turns out to be unreasonable, and the other spouse wishes to turn to litigation, then the latter will have to pay for another lawyer, who is unlikely to take into account the sums already paid for the CFP scheme.

Divorce lawyers already can and should do their best to explore a settlement with the other side in their clients' best interests, even outside of the CFP scheme. In fact, they already do so, and many divorces are settled without ever going through the CFP scheme.

The difference is that the lawyers are free to represent their clients in litigation, or to call for mediation, depending on the clients' best interests.

Parties involved in divorce should be aware of the different options, so as to decide on the most suitable and cost-effective way of getting a divorce.

Chan Yuk Lun

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 27, 2016, with the headline 'Keep options open for divorcing couples'. Print Edition | Subscribe