Collaborative Law; Divorce with Dignity

Divorce and Family Law

Collaborative Law is a process whereby you are provided with the best opportunity possible of achieving the best resolution you can for your family. This is achieved by taking away the confrontational nature which are usually involved in court proceedings.

The solicitors involved have been specially trained to guide you through every aspect of your divorce. Unlike court proceedings they do not focus on one issue at a time. The face to face meetings that are involved in the process represent your agenda and the issues that you wish to discuss. The same meeting can deal with:

  • Children
  • Matters of communication
  • Finances
  • Temporary arrangements

Because the process is controlled by the client it can limit both costs and acrimony.

Collaborative lawyers have access to a number of similarly specially trained professionals such as counsellors and the aim is that a result is reached in a dignified and respectful way.

How does it work?

Rather than go through lengthy correspondence and litigation all discussions are in a four way face to face meeting. Your specially trained Collaborative lawyer will be with you at each of the meetings to help guide you through them and protect your interest. Discussions involve focus on you and your concerns.

The Collaborative Law process requires a commitment from both parties to be full and frank in their disclosure of assets and income.

You will be guided through each stage in the procedure with the help if necessary of financial advice from independent financial advisors.

There may be issues that require extensive advice on dealing with child arrangements.  A trained Collaborative lawyer has access to specially trained professionals who can help.

Collaborative Family Law is not for every client but it is worth considering if you want to work within a process where both parties to the relationship treat the other with respect and in a non-confrontational manner. Where there are children involved they are the prime consideration and any agreement will be reached with their interests uppermost in the parties minds.

You will have some sort of relationship with your former partner indefinitely. If you consider it would be better to continue that relationship as amicably as possible, then Collaborative law enables you to discuss and agree arrangements. If there are difficulties and differences it gives you the opportunity to air them.

The benefit is that you are in control of the process. It moves at your pace and the outcome is one of which you approve. It is your marriage and the settlement must be yours.

If you do go to court and cannot reach an agreement a Judge will make a decision for you which may suit neither party.

It is different from mediation. A mediator cannot give either of you legal advice. They are only there to facilitate a result. If the mediator does manage to bring each of you to a conclusion you still have to go and see a solicitor to bring the matter to finalisation.

Collaborative Law is not for everybody. It may not be for you if:

(a) You believe your partner will withhold financial or other information     

(b) You do not believe your partner has an ability to participate in good faith

(c) You do not believe your partner is determined to use the process to resolve issues     

(d) You do not believe your partner can acknowledged the views and needs of others

7 things you should know about Collaborative Law:

1. When you chose the collaborative process it is a free exchange of information between parties with a pledge not to go to court. If one party decides to go to court then the professionals must withdraw from the process and each party starts with a new solicitor.   

2.Collaborative practice is not mediation.  Mediation involves an impartial third party who assists the negotiations and tries to help settle mattes.  Mediators should not give legal advice or be an advocate for each side.  Collaborative practice involves both parties and both parties’ lawyers during the negotiation process.  Collaborative practice lawyers who have training which is similar to mediators work with clients and one another to find a solution.    

3. Parties can gain assistance not only from their chosen lawyer but also from other problem solvers including accountants, counsellors, IFA’s to assist to find a solution.        

4. Collaborative practice is a non adversarial approach to settlement.  It does not rely upon the court system or Judges to resolve disputes and is a mechanism for parties to agree a solution that works best for them as individuals and is mindful of the parties’ needs and desires and that of any children.  Children’s needs can be held as paramount in these circumstances and the emotional tolls often placed on them as a result of court proceedings need not play a part.  Collaborative law is designed to ease the emotional strains of a relationship breakdown and encourage the wellbeing of children.   

5. If you decide on the collaborative practice both sides hire their own collaborative lawyer and everyone agrees in writing not to go to court.  Meetings are held on a face to face basis with lawyers present which are conducted and designed to produce an honest exchange of information and a clear understanding about the parties needs and expectations, especially where the welfare of children is concerned with a solution achieved by all parties which leads to a final divorce agreement.        

6. The timescales for collaborative practice suit each party’s requirement.  You get to determine how quickly your divorce and financial settlement proceeds, full disclosure and open communication allows issues to be dealt with efficiently and effectively without arduous court hearings and delays in the court system.    

7. The cost of the collaborative process can be significantly less than those expended at court with the monies formed during the marriage used to help the parties find solutions to a future apart as opposed to settling fees of solicitors and the court.

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