Divorce has a certain stigma attached to it, and the entire process is seen as quite hostile. Collaborative law is a procedure that is looking to change that opinion and to help couples get through their divorce in a more appealing way. We look at some of the most frequently asked questions relating to collaborative law.
Most clients visit a divorce lawyer upon a relationship breakdown because they want to 'know their rights' and the process is almost always considered, even at the very outset, as being an intimidating one.
Collaborative law and collaborative lawyers are seeking to change that opinion. In the collaborative process, each party will still have the benefit of a supportive and knowledgeable legal advisor to assist them along the way and to ensure that they achieve a fair outcome.
Collaborative law is a process whereby each person involved, including the lawyers, are fully committed to resolving the dispute without having to go to court. Each person will appoint a trained collaborative lawyer to represent them in any area of relationship breakdown whether it is divorce, financial or property disputes or children matters. The parties involved have to show their commitment to resolving the dispute and not going to court by signing a Participation Agreement stating the same and this prevents the lawyers from representing the person in
The process is commenced by an initial meeting with each parties own lawyer to discuss what to expect at the four-way meetings and what they might need to do to prepare for the meeting. The parties own lawyer will be able to advise their client in confidence of their entitlement and legal position within the dispute throughout the entire process.
The next step is to have the first of a number of face to face meetings, four-way meetings, at which both parties and their respective lawyers will attend. At this initial four-way meeting the parties and the lawyers will sign the Participation Agreement. Depending on the dispute, there are usually somewhere between 4 to 6 meetings before the matter is resolved. During the course of the next few meetings, everyone will work together to discuss and hopefully resolve the dispute, dealing with the concerns of each person. Specialist third parties can be brought into the meetings at any time. For example, a specialist in pensions and or financial planning might be required to help everyone understand what a specific option would mean financially for each person. The idea of the meetings is to enable the parties to reach an agreement on how the finances will be shared or what arrangements need to be made for the children.
At the final meeting, the agreements reached will have been drawn up into legally binding documents and the parties along with the lawyers will sign the same and agree to do what is necessary to have the agreement reached an approved order of the court.
This is really up to the parties involved. The process is not driven by any outside timetable such as those imposed by the court when proceedings are issued. The parties, along with their lawyers, can decide that they want the meetings to take place as soon and as frequently as possible or, if both parties have hectic
lifestyles or lengthy trips abroad planned, as soon as is convenient for them.
Sometimes only a few meetings will be required to resolve the dispute, in other cases 5 or 6 meetings might be required. The benefit of being able to choose their own timetable and schedule their own meetings is that the process can work around the entire family and can be resolved within the parties' own timeframe.
It requires two people who are both accepting of the relationship breakdown and are not intent on holding a grudge or taking the other for all that they have! The parties to some extent must also be on an equal footing, so for victims of domestic violence, controlling behaviour and/or emotional abuse collaborative law will not be suitable. Even if there has never been any of the above in a relationship both parties must trust one another for the process to work. collaborative law is not suitable for a person who, upon initiating/receiving divorce proceedings, seeks to remove all of their assets offshore and hide thousands under the mattress!
The process is very much about working with one another rather than against each other. It is attractive because each party will have the benefit of two lawyers working together to find the best possible outcome for them both as opposed to one lawyer simply putting forward their client's best argument in the hope to convince the other person to concede.
If you meet a person or you are a person going through relationship breakdown and, when talking about divorce and or the children matters, words such as "fairness, want what is best for the family, focus on the children, wish to remain friends" are words that are used then these are the people who are likely to have a successful Collaborative process.
If you are looking at divorce and want to consider collaborative law, Pinney Talfourd are here to help and advise you. We have an experienced and dedicated team of specialist family lawyers based in our offices across Essex.
We have evening and weekend appointments available and offer a free initial 30-minute consultation for all new family law enquiries. You can book your free initial family consultation using our online booking form or by calling your local office. This half hour appointment will allow you to explain the situation with an expert lawyer and discuss the best steps to minimise stress and delays.