The word divorce can stir all manner of emotions and expectations. Commonly, most people will brace themselves for a courtroom battle, mudslinging, children being used as bargaining tools and absolutely no chance of remaining ‘friends’ with their former partner in the future.

For many families the conflict never ends and everyone involved, particularly the children, find it extremely difficult to move on from it. But Collaborative Law is different.

So what is collaborative law?

Unlike the traditional adversarial process, each person appoints their own collaboratively trained lawyer and the couple and their respective lawyers all meet together to work things out face to face. Each party has their lawyer by their side throughout the whole process to provide support and legal advice.It requires commitment from the couple and their lawyers by signing an agreement that compels everyone to attempt to resolve the issues without involving the court.

How does it work in practice?

The couple and their lawyers meet all together (known as four way meetings) as often as needed to discuss the issues. Clients discuss what they want to discuss. The meetings are constructive and their aim is to enable the couple to negotiate, look at the options, deal with any conflict and reach an amicable resolution. The couple will individually be invited to voice their concerns and what they hope to achieve. Everything is openly discussed and everyone is expected to be honest and respectful.

What are the advantages?

There are many advantages in comparison to the traditional practice. The couple are in control and each of them has a voice. It is often better value for money as it is very likely that the issues will be resolved far quicker that going to court. It provides open communication and undoubtedly ensures respect is maintained throughout the process and in the future. It also enables the couple to plan for their futures and those of their children. By far the biggest advantage to many is that the family is able to move forward in a far more amicable and respectful way. Good relationships are maintained and many couples have reported that being able to work through every aspect of their separation – both practical and emotional – has enabled them to feel positive about their futures.

What can it be used for?

The collaborative process can be used for many issues including:

• Financial arrangements following relationship breakdown

• Sorting out arrangements for the children

• Civil Partnership disputes

• Arranging Living Together Agreements

• Arranging Pre-Marriage and Pre-Civil Partnership Agreements

• Agreeing property ownership

Will it work?

There are no guarantees but with a genuine desire by everyone involved to reach solutions there is no reason why it shouldn’t. The success rate for collaborative cases is 90%.

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