In the Press

Brid Manifold and Colleagues at Collaborative Law Galway Launch

Families First Seminar



Launch of Collaborative Law Galway


Connacht Tribune, May 10, 2009.     Page 10
Galway solicitors aim to lessen pain of break-up

THERE is no doubt that’ breaking up is hard to do’ as the song goes but it’s even harder when there’s children and property involved.

For the first time ever, there is a better way, a nicer way of splitting up, one that ensures, as much as possible, to reduce the hurt that is caused by an acrimonious separation or divorce.

Collaborative Law is a new approach to family law, especially marriage break-up, that is now available in Galway with over fifty solicitors signed up to the service.

It was started in the US, where they have seen more than their fair share of acrimonious divorces, about 20 years ago, probably after realizing the negative effect it had on children.

The Galway spokesperson for Collaborative Law, Bríd Manifold, says this is a process for people who want to ensure their children come out of the break-up as unscathed as possible.

Of course the process is for everybody, everyone that is who is willing to go down the collaborative route, in a civil manner with an eye to the future, as opposed to dwelling on the past.

It sounds like a very grownup process, probably not for the newly separated but those couples who have accepted that their marriage has no future.

It cuts out the court room, which Ms Manifold says isn’t the place to make decisions on sensitive matters such as custody and access.

“In this way, the couple drive the process, directed and supported by their lawyers. In fact the relationship between the two solicitors is as important as the one between the couple.

“This is why solicitors have to train to leave their traditional legal skills behind and replace them with mediation skills. What’s good about it is it takes it out of the fear based court dominated environment and places the couple in an environment of openness and trust. This is driven by the couple with the support of their lawyers, which is why we train in mediation skills.”

Ms Manifold, like a number of other Galway solicitors, trained in Cork four years ago with Pauline Tesler, an American lawyer who has pioneered the Collaborative Law process, one that the the Legal Aid Board was committed to introducing.

“The traditional family law system is intrinsically not designed or capable of offering clients the type of forward looking deep resolution that this human, difficult situation calls for,” she adds.

She thoroughly enjoyed the training, realising immediately that this was a much better way of handling family law and spearheaded its introduction to Galway, which is why her colleagues have nominated her to be their spokesperson.

She has already handled three cases under this process and recently discovered the two clients, now ex-spouses, having a celebratory drink together in a local pub at lunch-time, after the morning’s resolution.

“I thought this is exactly why this process is so good. Under the old process, you would be shielding your client out a back or side door so they wouldn’t bump into their exspouse!

“This is a much more mature approach. Though clients pay for their own solicitors, all other experts, like accountants, child therapists, whatever the individual case requires, are paid jointly, making it much more cost efficient.”

It is a new enough service in Galway and the West of Ireland with still only fifty or so solicitors trained and offering it, though the demand for it is envisaged to grow as the word spreads.

“I believe that in an atmosphere of openness and privacy they can deal with the issues and conflicts that arise with marital break-up at a pace that suits them and walk away with their dignity intact ,” she adds.

The Galway Collaborate Law group is holding an information night in the Salthill Hotel begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting on Thursday, May 21 at 6.30pm geared at letting local interest groups such as voluntary organizations, HSE, therapists, doctors, accountants, financial consultants, social workers and family support workers what they are about.

A full list of local practitioners can be found at Additionally, provides a nationwide list of those trained in the procedure and details of how it works.

Bríd talks to
Connacht Tribune
Solicitors Help Couples Avoid Court

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