When people approach us at Panonne, a UK based family law firm, and are looking for divorce advice they often want to avoid the court process. Collaborative law is a way of doing just that, you and your former partner meet in a series of face to face meetings with lawyers and seek to find lasting solutions to family law problems. These meetings which hinge on mutual respect are generally considered more dignified than dealing with the court process which can often be very hostile.
Although collaborative law is only recently being embraced in the UK it has already had lot of success in the United States where the process originated.
Is Collaborative law for me?
Collaborative law is a process that is available to any couples, whether married or unmarried, whose relationship has broken down and are facing disputes over plans for any children or anything financial. Typically meetings might discuss:
- Financial settlements on divorce;
- Pre or post nuptial agreements;
- Living together agreements;
- Arrangements for children on divorce or separation;
- Removal of a child from the jurisdiction;
- Varying financial settlements made on divorce;
- Reviewing or varying arrangements for children.
During collaborative law you attend face to face meetings called 4-ways typically with your partner and both your lawyers. You can also choose to bring other representatives such as accountants and financial advisors but all representatives must have received training in the collaborative process.
To begin the process everyone involved must sign an agreement of commitment to the process then you and your former partner instruct lawyers on how you would like the situation resolved. If the issue relates to financial issues you must both submit details of your financial situation, this is known as disclosure.
Your lawyers will instruct you on how to record any agreement; you will also have the support of your lawyer outside of the meetings.
The benefits of collaborative law
- Collaborative law is often quicker at reaching solutions than the traditional court process
- You and your former partner will have more control over the process than in court
- The environment is non-aggressive helping to avoid conflict
- Communication between you and your partner is maintained, sometimes even improved by the process which is helpful where children are involved.
If you think the end of your relationship has reached a stage where you need legal advice mediation of this kind can often be a less painful approach.