The aim of collaborative law is to resolve family disputes without going to court apart from dealing with uncontested divorce proceedings and getting the approval for any financial agreement you reach.
You and your partner each instruct your own trained collaborative lawyer but instead of conducting negotiations by letter or phone you meet together to work things out face to face. Each of you will have your lawyer by your side throughout the entire process and therefore you will benefit from legal advice as you go. Your collaborative lawyer is able to provide you with support, guidance and legal advice throughout the process.
You and your partner will set the agenda and pace of the process, dealing with matters important to you at the right time. This can be particularly helpful where there are children involved.
You are still under a duty to provide all relevant financial disclosure as you would be in any other process.
There are other professionals who can assist within the collaborative process such as counsellors, family consultants, accountants and financial professionals. If needed, collaboratively trained professionals can assist.
If you are unable to reach an agreement within the collaborative process you will both have to instruct different lawyers to progress matters through the Court.
Sadly there is no legal aid available for collaborative negotiations. The costs will therefore be funded privately and will very much depend on how quickly you are able to reach agreement. If one of you is self employed or owns a business, expert help from accountants/financial advisors may be needed. This will of course add to the cost, but costs should only be incurred where they are proportionate to the result you are trying to achieve.
How does the collaborative process work?
Once you have decided that the collaborative process is for you, you will both meet with your separate lawyers to talk about what to expect and what you both need to do to prepare for the collaborative meetings, known as four way meetings. These take place with you and your partner and your respective lawyers. Both lawyers, your’s and your partner’s, will then speak to each other in order to plan for your first meeting.
At the first four way meeting, the lawyers will make sure that you both understand that you are making a commitment to working out an agreement without going to court. You, your partner and both lawyers will all sign an agreement to this effect. You will discuss matters as agreed in advance and plan the agenda for the next meeting.
What will specifically be discussed at the first four way meeting will very much depend on your own individual circumstances but might typically include a discussion about how the children are responding to the separation. If time permits you may also go on to discuss how financial information will be shared and agree on who will bring what financial information to the next meeting.
Subsequent four way meetings will deal with you and your partner’s particular priorities and concerns. You may look at involving other professionals to assist with pensions and financial planning or people trained to assist the children in understanding and coping with the changes that your divorce or separation will bring to their lives. The meetings will enable you to reach agreement on how the assets will be shared and/or what arrangements need to be made for the children.
In the final meeting, documents setting out the agreements you have reached will be signed by you and your lawyers. Your lawyers will talk you both through anything that needs to be done in order to implement those agreements.
The timetable will be set by you and your partner and will depend on your own individual needs.
Contact Farleys Solicitors now to talk to a Collaborative Lawyer on 0125 460 6090 or you can e-mail us.