Collaborative Law - Good Divorce Week 2022
The financial and emotional cost of court proceedings can ruin families. As part of Resolution’s Good Divorce Week, we are keen to raise awareness of the dispute resolution options which can offer more appropriate and cost effective ways to move forward.
Today we will be considering Collaborative Law.
Under the collaborative law process, each person appoints their own collaboratively trained lawyer and you all meet together to discuss issues and work things out face to face.
Collaborative law provides an alternative way to settle differences without costly courtroom battles. It allows you to control the decisions that affect your family, your children, your finances and your future relationship and to do so in private.
The process helps to resolve the consequences of relationship breakdown, using round table meetings to sort out both practical and legal arrangements. It will help you and your partner to communicate honestly and directly in a supported environment as you work together to reach a solution that suits your family.
Why Does it Work?
Most people want to settle their differences as efficiently, fairly and cost effectively as possible enabling them to move forward with their lives. Collaboration helps to achieve those goals.
You and your lawyers sign an agreement that commits you to trying to resolve issues without going to court. It prevents your lawyers from representing you in court if the collaborative process breaks down.
That means you are all absolutely committed to finding the best solutions by agreement.
Who is it for?
Collaborative law is flexible and wide ranging. As specialist collaborative lawyers, we regularly address with the whole spectrum of issues arising from the breakdown of family relationships.
We help couples who:
• are ending their relationship, whether living together, married or in a civil partnership
• have separated or divorced and who want to make arrangements for children
• have separated or divorced and what to make arrangements regarding finances
• want to review arrangements arising from a change in circumstance – whether in respect of children or finances
• are looking to enter living together agreements or pre and post nuptial agreements
What issues can it cover?
Every situation is different and we adapt the meetings to your needs. We regularly assist with issues surrounding:
• Divorce or dissolution
• Arrangements for Children
• Property Division
• Financial Support
• Pre-Nuptial Agreements
How does it work?
Initially you would both meet with your respective lawyers to discuss the various options and processes available before deciding that the collaborative process is for you.
You will both meet individually with your separate lawyers to talk about what to expect in the collaborative meetings. These are often referred to as “four way” meetings because they are meetings with you, your partner and your respective lawyers. You and your lawyer will establish what you both need to do to prepare. Your respective lawyers will speak to each other face to face or over the phone to plan the first meeting.
Subsequent meetings will address you and your partner’s particular priorities and concerns. In effect you can set the agenda.
You might, for instance, look at involving other professionals such as financial planners, pension experts or specialists trained to help your children cope with the changes your separation will bring.
The meetings will enable you to reach agreement on how finances will be shared or what arrangements should be in place for your children, recognising their individual needs.
Sometimes only a couple of meetings are needed, in other cases four or five.
In the final meeting documents detailing your agreement will be signed and your lawyers will talk you through the steps required to implement the agreed terms.
Where necessary, they will put the agreement into effect and obtain a Court Order.
The collaborative service can be offered in person or remotely.
What happens if agreement is not reached?
The majority of cases successfully conclude in the collaborative process. If an agreement cannot be reached, you may then wish to instruct another solicitor or apply to the court.
By that stage, much of the information a solicitor or the court needs would have been provided and the issues narrowed. This will reduce the overall cost and time needed to reach a final settlement.
Do I need a solicitor?
Both of you will have your lawyer by your side throughout the process. You will have their support and receive legal advice as discussions progress.