Collaborative Law is one of the ways that provides an alternative to going to court to resolve family disputes and make arrangements about children, finances and other personal matters after separation or divorce. It is designed to minimise the hurt, the loss of self-esteem and the anger and alienation that occurs all too frequently when a relationship breaks down.
How does it work?
It involves you and your partner both having your own trained collaborative lawyer and all four parties involved in a series of round table meetings to work out a settlement face to face. Discussions take place in a non-confrontational manner, which is particularly important if you are parenting children together. After each “4 way meeting” you will meet with your lawyer to discuss issues that have arisen and further issues that still have to be addressed. There is no letter writing to address issues, these are all dealt with face-to-face at the meetings. This is a very effective way of ensuring that any and all areas of the process are discussed openly.
The collaborative law model is based on all participants, the two parties and both lawyers, agreeing in writing not to go to court. A formal agreement is signed at the first meeting. This means that if one party later on decides to go to court after all, both solicitors have to stop acting and both parties have to change solicitors. This is a strong incentive to stick to collaborative law, even if there is a sticky patch. Similar to mediation, all issues are discussed in meetings with the difference that there are four people instead of three: the two parties and their lawyers.
What are the benefits?
- You still have your own independent solicitor but you are in control, without the threat of court proceedings hanging over you
- Its often cheaper
- Its generally quicker
- Its more amiable and less combative
- Instead of conducting negotiations by phone or letter, details are discussed face to face reducing the scope for misunderstandings
- The key decisions about your future are made by you not the court.
The key factor of this method is that you and your partner remain in control of your own destiny and do not face solutions being imposed upon you by a stranger, in a process which itself can be daunting.
Once agreement is reached, the lawyers can draw up an agreed document that can then be submitted to the court for approval. You and your partner will not need to attend court throughout this whole process.