Collaborative Law involves couples working with their solicitors in an honest and respectful way in an attempt to find a win-win solution to the family’s problems. It is a recognised legal process whereby the husband and wife each appoint a collaboratively trained lawyer from a different firm. Together with their lawyers, the couple attends a series of round table meetings in an attempt to come to a settlement which meets each of their needs.
It is not a process which will suit everyone but for those who enter the process the success rate is around 85%.
WOULD COLLABORATIVE LAW SUIT ME?
Do you want to maintain control over the process in terms of time and pace?
Face to face meetings are scheduled by the people going through the marriage breakdown at a pace which they find comfortable. There are no court dates or rushed hearings.
Are you prepared to be upfront with your partner?
The collaborative process can only work if you and your partner are prepared to disclose everything about your financial and family situation. That would include any interests you might have around the world in any form. Your partner’s collaboratively trained lawyer will go through the information he or she is presented with and ensure it forms a coherent picture.
Do you think you can sit in the same room as your partner?
During the negotiations you and your partner will sit in a room together to discuss the best outcome for you and the family. You will be given assistance from the lawyers as well as any other third party which might help you. This might include help from financial advisors or family consultants who are there to help support each of you through the meetings.
Are the needs of your children your primary concern?
Despite any court actions, you and your partner will remain co parents. The hardest way to do that is to build conflict into the relationship, perhaps with a Court fought battle over finances. The easiest way is to maintain the relationship and where possible by remaining civil, open, honest and kind to one another.
Are you open to options relating to financial and child care arrangements?
Collaboratively trained lawyers are trained to help their clients generate options to help meet their needs and solve any difficulties. The less restricted the lawyers and their clients are to explore these options the more positive the experience will be.
Will the process be cheaper than a normal divorce?
The cheapest option is a divorce and financial settlement which settles all the issues without any need for lawyer negotiation or guidance. Unfortunately that is not always appropriate. Collaborative law is often cheaper than a ‘normal’ divorce but perhaps more encouragingly, the time spent is more relevant to the parties. ‘Tit for tat’ or point scoring legal action is not a part of the collaborative process so the time (and money) spent on legal fees is really focussed on developing options and workable solutions for the clients.
How is this different to mediation?
Sometimes mediation is the most effective problem solving route for a couple going through a separation or divorce. However sometimes mediation breaks down as one or both parties will seek legal opinion about the proposals they are reaching and that opinion is divisive. Further, some people feel that mediation doesn’t offer them the support they need. In the collaborative process each of you will be supported by a lawyer offering legal support in every meeting.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE?
The best way to proceed at the outset of a marriage breakdown is to visit a legal advisor trained in the collaborative process. It is better to go without your partner. The lawyer can help you go through your options, including collaborative law, with regards to settling any disputes which may arise.
Collaborative law can also be used to agree pre or post nuptial agreements and to settle distinct disputes at the outset of a separation or relating to cohabitation.