What is collaborative law?

Collaborative law is a process where the parties and their lawyers agree to work together to resolve disputes without using the courts. The issues are resolved in face to face meetings between you, your partner and each of your lawyers who are especially trained in collaborative law.

Can I approach any lawyer to help me in the collaborative law process?

No - you will need to contact a lawyer specifically trained in collaborative law. Your partner must also need to contact a lawyer especially trained in collaborative law.

Is collaborative law available for all couples who are separating?

Yes the process is available for married couples, civil partners and cohabitants.

Is collaborative law available for any further type of family issue?

Yes it is also available for a variety of family disputes such as grandparents seeking to discuss contact with their grandchildren, the issue of child maintenance or indeed the discussion of pre-nuptial, post-nuptial or cohabitation agreements.

How does it work?

  1. You will each meet with your collaborative lawyer to establish what you want to achieve, if collaborative law is appropriate to you and what you need to do in order to prepare for the initial meeting.
  2. At the first meeting, you, your lawyer, your partner and your partner's lawyer will sign an agreement that you will resolve disputes through negotiation and not through the courts. It also provides that if either of you wish to resort to the courts, you will each wait for 21 days before doing so and that you must instruct new lawyers to act for you.
    You will look at the issues that are important to you and set the agenda and timescales that fit your circumstances.
  3. Following meetings will be used to resolve the issues you have identified.
  4. At the final meeting, documents providing the agreements you have made during the process will be signed by you both to create a binding agreement.

How long does the collaborative law process take?

You and your partner are in control of the timescale and can make it fit with your lifestyle and specific needs and wishes. You both decide when the meetings take place and the duration of the meetings. The process can prove quicker than the court process because you are not subject to the courts timetable and availability.

What are the main advantages of using collaborative law?

  1. You each, along with your collaborative lawyers, work as a team to find solutions appropriate for both of you.
  2. You retain control of the decisions during the process instead of the court.
  3. The process is confidential. Court proceedings are open to the press.
  4. Maintaining a working relationship with your partner.
  5. Unlike the mediation process, your lawyer will be there for you throughout the process, providing legal advice during the meetings and, if required, negotiating at the meetings on your behalf.
  6. Other experts and professionals can be asked to provide advice such as financial specialists or a barrister on joint instructions.
  7. Can be less expensive than using the courts.

Are there any disadvantages in using collaborative law?

Collaborative law is not for everyone. For example, meeting 'face to face' with your partner may not be appropriate to your situation. All the options with be explored with your solicitor at the first meeting.

What if my partner will not be honest in relation to his/her financial affairs?

An agreement is signed by you both that states that you will each provide full information about your financial circumstances.

Is the collaborative law process cheaper than the mediation and court process?

Collaborative law can be cheaper than using the courts.

Collaborative law is a popular alternative to the court process to resolve disputes.

Can I get Legal Aid for collaborative law?

No. Legal aid is not available for collaborative law.

What happens if we need input from other professionals?

You can involve other professionals as appropriate.

Finding a lawyer

As a collaborative law client you will want to choose a lawyer who you feel will best serve your needs. To that end, we have compiled a list of professionals to give you the widest choice possible.

Alternatively, we can help you decide - contact us to find out more.

Choosing a collaborative lawyer

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