Collaborative Law

What is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative law is a method which enables couples to resolve all the issues arising from their separation or divorce outside of the adversarial court process.

Both parties are represented by a collaborative lawyer who has been specifically trained in this method of dispute resolution. The entire case is dealt with in meetings between the couple and their respective collaborative lawyers (often referred to as “four ways”). The court’s only involvement is to approve an agreement reached by the parties.

By its nature collaborative law is flexible and creative, enabling a couple to tailor-make solutions.  The process is regarded as a dignified and respectful way for couples to resolve issues.  The approach is team based and the focus a problem solving one.

At the beginning of the process the couple and their collaborative lawyers sign an agreement to undertake to provide full disclosure of their finances, negotiate in good faith and to confirm they agree to opt out of going to court. If either party subsequently decides to end the collaborative law process and/or issue court proceedings, then the process ends and both the collaborative lawyers will have no further involvement in the case.

The collaborative law process can also by used by couples who want to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement.

Collaborative law is worth considering if:

  • You want to have control over the decisions reached in respect of the children and finances, rather than hand these over to someone else (a judge/arbitrator)
  • You want to have the guidance of your own lawyer at meetings and during the entire process
  • You want to have the benefit of other professionals to advise you and your partner jointly, so they can consider all options with you together
  • You want to avoid the adversarial nature and potentially high costs of using the court process
  • Your want to maintain a good relationship with your partner in the future, particularly where  you will be continuing your role as parents.

For more information please see what the collaborative law process involves article in Resources.

How long does the Collaborative Law process take?

The process is dependent on your own and your partner’s timetable and requirements. You can set up meetings as you both require. Unlike the court process there is no set timetable imposed.

What are the differences between Collaborative Law and Mediation?

In mediation the mediator is a neutral third party who does not give either of you legal advice and will not take sides. The mediator helps couples to explore and examine the issues which arise for them when they separate or divorce, with a view to finding solutions. Mediators will recommend you each take separate legal advice, during and after the process Usually lawyers do not attend mediation sessions.  Mediation is not a binding process. After couples have received legal advice on their proposals their solicitors can convert them into a legally binding document. The mediator cannot however prepare the court documents for you, or put the proposals into effect.

The collaborative process involves the couple each having their own lawyer throughout the process advising them and being present with them during meetings. The lawyers can also prepare any necessary paperwork to make any agreements reached binding, and deal with putting the agreement into effect.

If you are concerned that you will feel uncomfortable in the sole presence of your partner, or are unsure about financial matters, collaborative law may be a better option for you than mediation.

For more information about the collaborative law process or to arrange a session contact Kim Finnis on 01483 539100.