What does the collaborative law process involve?

If you decide that the collaborative law process is the one you wish to use, you and your collaborative lawyer will meet to discuss the first “four way” meeting and how the process works in more depth.  Your collaborative lawyer will then speak to your  spouse’s/ partner’s collaborative lawyer to confirm the agenda and the arrangements for the first four-way meeting.

At the first four way meeting both collaborative lawyers will ensure that you both understand the commitment that you are making to resolve matters without going to court.   Everyone will then sign an agreement [the Participation Agreement] to confirm the ground rules.

There will be a discussion as to the aims that you and your partner have and your priorities for the future.    It is useful to be able to come back to consider these aims and priorities  throughout the process.  Other matters that may be discussed are:

  • Whether you are considering a separation or divorce and the processes entailed
  • The children’s needs and how these may best be met
  • How you will both provide full details as to your financial positions.  A standard form is often used for this purpose.
  • What tasks need to be undertaken for the next meeting
  • If you need assistance from other professionals and/or family consultants
  • What will be on the agenda at the next meeting and when will that meeting take place

The collaborative law process is team based.  Where help is needed form other professionals such as : accountants, surveyors, financial planners and/or pension advisors, they are instructed jointly on behalf of you both and can be invited to attend meetings when their expertise is required.  You will both decide how information from fellow professionals is to be obtained and brought into the process.

To help with the often intense emotions that can be experienced during divorce, couples using the collaborative law are also encouraged to take advantage of family consultants to facilitate communication and provide them with support at this time.

At future four way meetings you will consider your assets, income positions and your future needs in detail,with a view to reaching agreement on how the assets and finances will be shared.  You will also discuss the arrangements that need to be made for the children.

At the last meeting documents setting out the agreements you have reached will be signed and your lawyers will talk through all the arrangements to put the agreements into effect.