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Collaborative Family Law

A different approach

Collaborative Family Law is a positive and proactive process where everyone’s view is heard, all points are discussed openly and resolution is reached by agreement

Court proceedings can be very expensive and sometimes drive wedges between family members which may never heal. It will usually force you to adopt positions and as a result, could  lead to a blinkered approach instead of taking account of  the best interests of the children or the family as a whole.

The damage to the children can be very significant and permanent.

It can result in significant family events becoming torture for all concerned

It also focuses largely on the financial aspects of a case and does not usually involve any dialogue on issues that are crucial to the family.   

"I have experienced some challenging issues and problems in the collaborative process, but they have been overcome with cooperation and imagination.It is the area of my work in which I feel the most effective and it is the most fulfilling work that I have ever done." Alison Skene - Family Law Solicitor

  Alison Skene

Collaborative Family Law is another way of resolving family relationship problems.

It avoids court hearings, and reduces correspondence  (which can potentially descend to a war of words), to a minimum and pleasant e-mails  are exchanged between the solicitors   

It  is an adaptable process and it can also help couples who would like to continue in their relationship but, for whatever reason, wish to organise their finances by agreement. This could be a pre-nuptial or mid relationship agreement, a separation agreement; even a Living Together Agreement. It can also be used effectively to discuss and agree arrangements for the children in terms of where they will live and with whom.

Some Important facts for you about the process:

  • You both have a collaboratively trained lawyer each
  • Both lawyers and you both enter into an agreement at the start of the process to be open and to provide full financial and other disclosure and to behave decently to the other person.
  • We all use first names and it is a friendly process
  • Everyone has an input in what is discussed at meeting and where and when they take place
  • An agenda is set out before each meeting and each meeting deals with everything that you either need or want to discuss
  • The speed of the process is determined by the slowest person and they must feel comfortable with the process
  • You both work out a statement, the Anchor Statement, at the start of the process and to what you are seeking to achieve through the process and this will be revisited if the process is stalled at any time to seek to reset it.
  • It is not guaranteed to work, but there is a high percentage of successful outcomes
  • It is surprising how many Anchor Statements prepared independently of each other are very similar and state the same priorities and focus on the best interests of the children.
  • You do have to meet face to face
  • You do have to discuss some painful issues, but Collaborative Family Consultants like relationship counsellors can be brought into the process to do work with both of you or either one of you, if this is thought to be helpful.
  • The court process is not concerned with the pain that you experience, the court has to adopt an approach that ignores it ; this can leave issues festering that are never resolved ; Collaborative law allows these to be voiced, considered and sensitively dealt with. 
  • The biggest concern might be that if the process fails that both Collaborative lawyers have to resign and new lawyers are appointed, but this is the greatest strength of the process as this forces them to  fully commit to the process , and to view the situation imaginatively in a way that would not be possible within the court process.
  • The court only has limited power to put together settlements you can however make agreements in the collaborative process which the court cannot.
  • Often these agreements are exactly what your family needs, they are achieved quickly and cost effectively and the whole family benefits as relationships are maintained.       
  • You must have a genuine desire to make it work, be willing to disclose information about all assets and to maintain regular contact with each other. 
  • Yes, sometimes in mercenary terms you might have secured more in financial terms on a court settlement, but the cost of this can be great in financial and other in other ways.
  • Sometimes however peace of mind and achieving a fair settlement is the greater prize; together with standing together at the Graduation Ceremony , or Wedding smiling and meaning it.