Collaborative law provides a non-confrontational method of dealing with divorce and other family problems without having to go to court. It is only appropriate if both parties agree to the collaborative law process and are willing to work together to reach a settlement, with the help of third parties to advise and guide them.
Collaborative law can be a useful for resolving issues relating to finances, separation, children and divorce.
Research indicates that the collaborative law method has a success rate of 85%. This is because the process has been specifically structured to facilitate the chance of a successful settlement being reached. The process is also supported by collaborative lawyers who are specially trained to enable a non-confrontational method of reaching an agreement.
During the collaborative law process you, your partner and both of your representatives will have face to face negotiations. These are known as four way meetings and your representatives will be collaboratively trained solicitors. The idea is that you will all work together to find solutions to the issues which is acceptable to all parties.
At the beginning, your solicitors will make sure you both understand the process and you will all sign an agreement committing to the collaborative law process. Once signed, an agenda is then set, at the first meeting, which outlines what the issues to be resolved are. It is critical that both you and your partner are committed to finding a negotiated settlement using this process.
Once the issues are outlined you will then go on to discuss them, with the guidance of your solicitors, at a series of meetings. If you both agree and a solution has been reached you will both sign a settlement agreement.
If it is a financial agreement, this has to be filed with the court for a judge to approve. Once approved the agreement becomes a binding court order.
As you and your partner will both have your own collaborative solicitor you will incur costs at that solicitor’s rate. This is critical to ensure that you both receive independent advice.
The overall cost of the process is defined by the length of time spent on reaching an agreement. The earlier an agreement is reached, the lower the legal fees will be. One of the major benefits of collaborative law over a traditional divorce process is the removal of court fees.
It is possible to include the costs as one of the issues to resolve at the beginning of the process. This will allow for negotiations to be held around who should pay the legal fees.
The collaborative law process is free from court imposed timescales so provides a major benefit. You and your partner are in control of the speed of the agreement. The more willing you both are to reach a compromise, the quicker the process can be.
People who choose the collaborative law process are usually confident that they can both be reasonable enough to reach a negotiated settlement.
If however, an agreement cannot be reached, the collaborative solicitors have to withdraw from the process and disqualify themselves from future litigation. You and your partner would then have to instruct new solicitors to take you down the traditional court route.
If you would like to discuss an issue with one of our family law solicitors, please contact us and one of our specialist team will be happy to advise you.