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Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is a relatively new process that allows a couple that is separating and wanting a divorce to deal with any issues and disputes outside of court using their own solicitor that is trained as a collaborator. The aim of the process is to resolve issues in a way that reduces the hurt and anger that often arises in these cases since although parties may end their relationship there is often the scenario where they need to continue co-parenting. Therefore, this process encourages the parties to maintain a level of respect for each other and to keep communications open to arrive at suitable arrangements for the future. The parties each attend the meetings with a lawyer and between them they work out the concerns such as finances, practical issues as well as childcare arrangements. There are some similarities with mediation, and the use of professional alternative dispute resolution lawyers can help the parties reach a customised, tailor-made solution in a more amicable way. This means that the parties can get advice and support from their solicitor throughout the discussions.

In mediation, the parties cannot be advised by the mediator and so if the agreement reached is not actually fair, the mediator cannot discuss this. In the collaborative law process, both parties are fully represented by experts who can advise them and are there solely for their benefit rather than as a neutral party.

However, the collaborative system still ensures open discussions and alternative proposals to reach an agreeable solution. Collaborative law will not be appropriate in every case and you need to take advice from a specialist collaborative lawyer as to whether it will be appropriate in your circumstances.

What are the benefits of Collaborative Law?

The collaborative law process is aimed at couples that wish to resolve their issues in a way that is fair and will minimise the impact of the divorce on the whole family. The backbone of this process is that the parties will not take the matter to court (or threaten court) and wish to reach an amicable solution. Both parties need to be prepared to enter the discussions in good faith and be prepared to negotiate and adapt. Collaborative law can be very successful in resolving the issues in a way that is more stress-free and less aggressive. It can help preserve already delicate relationships, which is especially useful where there are children involved meaning that the parties will need to stay in touch in the future. The process is generally less expensive and time consuming than court proceedings and can allow the parties to stay in control and determine what is right for them and any children. By using this method, the parties can be helped by their solicitors in several ways, since they can help resolve any conflicts that arise and advise and support their client throughout the whole process. Any technical issues, such as disclosing and exchanging information, can be done with the assistance of the solicitors, who can also instruct any professionals that are needed for the case.

How does the Collaborative Law process work?

Initially, the client would have a meeting just with their solicitor to discuss the details of their case and to receive advice on the best route forward. They will cover all the issues that will be raised during the process such as finance and the care of the children as well as any other practical issues. Usually, the solicitors will meet in advance of the group meeting to consider any issues that may be relevant.

The parties then will all meet and discuss the issues using the collaborative law process. The meetings must be done in person with all parties present - it cannot be done by correspondence. It may take several meetings to resolve all the issues. The parties will be able to state what their main aims are and then a four-way participation agreement will be signed by everyone. The parties need to agree that they will not take the matter to court and that they will focus on the relevant issues rather than bringing up past grievances. Importantly, the parties have to agree to remain courteous and to refrain from being threatening (this includes threatening court action). The parties have to promise to provide full and frank disclosure and to only discuss the issues at the collaborative law meetings. The interests of the children are the main priority and the parties must agree to encourage a positive relationship with both parents and to keep the children away from any of the disputes. This emphasises how the whole process revolves around working together in an amicable way.

The lawyers will agree to similar terms relating to being courteous and truthful. They will also agree not to take the matter to court and to be constructive and fair in finding a solution that works for both parties and to prioritise the needs of any children. Where necessary they will instruct professional opinions, for example, specialists in pensions, childcare issues, financial advisors or accountants.

Once an agreement has been made on all issues then the solicitors will hold a final meeting for the parties to all attend and they will provide a final agreement to be signed. The solicitors can then complete the necessary paperwork for the divorce proceedings.

There will be times where the process does not work and in this case, the parties are given 21 days to consider the situation before they can commence court proceedings. This does not apply if either party has broken the agreement. Because the collaborative process is confidential and “without prejudice” until an agreement is reached, in cases where the process has not worked, the clients will have to instruct new lawyers to represent them in Court. Nothing that was discussed during the collaborative law process will be allowed to be used in the Court proceedings. 

Contact our Expert Collaborative Law Solicitors Bradford Today

Call us on 01274 350 546 or fill out our online enquiry form.

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