If you and your partner have separated, the traditional way of dealing with things would be to each see your own lawyer for independent legal advice, then attempt to resolve disagreements through these lawyers, usually through exchange of letters.
If that fails, you find yourselves asking the family courts to decide for you on how to resolve things that affect your family and/or finances.
How Collaborative Law differs
In Collaborative Law, you each have your own lawyer, but deal with things more amicably, meeting your partner (with both lawyers also present) face-to-face. In this way, everyone can work together to agree an outcome that works for you both and any children you may have. When you’ve done this, your lawyers write up the agreement for you to sign. If appropriate the lawyers will obtain a court order to reflect the agreement.
This process works particularly well where there are disagreements involving:
- Children and the time that they spend with each of you
- Your finances following divorce
- The sale of a property where you were not married
- Any other matters relating to parenting, including choice of school, a move abroad etc.
Your lawyers are with you at every stage, and can bring in others to help towards an amicable solution if needed. If the family needs support, it might be agreed that an independent financial adviser, accountant, family consultant or child specialist can help you, for example.
The benefits of Collaborative Law
- Working at your own pace and convenience rather than waiting for a court date
- A flexible process which fits around what you need in order to reach agreement
- The potential to avoid the costs involved in preparing a case for trial
- Up-front confirmation of fees
- A solution made to fit your family and situation rather than being imposed by an outsider.
At the end of the process, you will have experienced successfully working together with your former partner – this, and the continued communication, should help you in the future.
In order to make this process work, both of you need to agree that you:
- Genuinely want to reach a fair solution for your family
- Are willing to be open and honest about all your assets
- Are committed to finding a solution without going to court.
Lawyers must be trained in collaborative law in order to assist a couple in this way. Holly Coates is trained in working with couples collaboratively and can be instructed on a Direct Access basis, meaning that meetings are paid for up-front, with the certainty of knowing how much it will cost.