Dear Stephen,

I read the article in the Harrogate Advertiser regarding the promotion of Collaborative Law and I wanted to say how much I applaud this approach.

I read it with interest as I'm a divorced man who ended up having a full two day financial hearing. This was only after 16-17 other court appearances in front of various District Judges for various tit for tat hearings regarding 'possessions'; first hearings, FDR hearings etc. I'm sure you well know how 'out of control' warring parties can get.

Prior to my divorce I had never been in a Court of Law; I was once given a hearing date and time for a speeding offence and pleaded guilty by post. I found the whole situation of my divorce being in court so stressful that I lost over 1 1/2 stones in weight. I would simply never marry again and, had I known the stress and legalities involved in divorce, simply would never have entertained the idea in the first place.

My final hearing took place in the same court room that is used for criminals and murderers, where I answered questions on who paid for the gas and electric bills, mortgage, pensions and holidays. The situation was farcical. The divorce laws simply have to be changed to prevent this type of situation happening to other people and I hope Bridget Prentice is committed to family mediation.

What I find most disturbing about divorce is the amount people who have had similar situations. There seems to be an underlying trend in the family law profession for people to pass exams, practice law and be motivated financially on the back of an individualís state of mind, regardless of the long term consequences to relationships. I consider myself very fortunate to have had a brilliant legal team, which of course came at enormous cost, but in all honesty the situation should never been allowed to escalate to that level in the first instance!

My ex-wife incidentally received 5% less in her settlement than I had offered her some 16 months previously. What a complete waste of time and money, not to mention the stress involved. Needless to say, my ex-wife went 'ballistic' when she wasn't awarded what her legal team had told her she was 'entitled' to; it has left her very bitter indeed.

To make matters even worse, we have a young son, who now has two parents who don't even want to be in the same room, let alone be on speaking terms. The law simply has to change to prevent these situations as, in my case, the court option was far too easily accessible. I hope Collaborative Law will eventually replace the present and very archaic court system.