What is collaborative law?
Collaborative law is a relatively new process whereby you try to resolve a conflict between yourself and your ex-partner without the cost and stress of going to court.
The collaborative process is often compared to mediation, a method it has much in common with – but also important differences from.
Here is everything you need to know to decide whether collaborative law might be the way to help you resolve issues with a former or future partner:
What Is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative law is a way for couples who are separating to come to an amicable arrangement without needing to involve the courts. It is also a suitable approach for creating prenuptial agreements.
The collaborative process involves you and your former (or future) partner and both your lawyers getting together for a series of meetings. The goal is to slowly work out an agreement that is acceptable to both of you.
Critically, you both sign an agreement saying you won’t go to court if you can’t finalise an agreement. If the negotiations don’t work out, you will need to find new lawyers and try again.
What Is The Collaborative Process?
1) Find Collaboratively Trained Lawyers
Not every lawyer is trained to work via the collaborative process. This means you will need to find one who is.
Solicitors Near Me can find you the ideal collaborative lawyer for FREE and with no obligation. Complete a Free Online Enquiry or contact us on 0845 1391399 and we’ll handle searching through all the options for you.
2) Sign A Participation Agreement
A Participation Agreement states that you are committed to trying to resolve the issues without going to court. Most agreements specify that your lawyer in any collaborative process cannot go on to represent you in court, further incentivising everyone present to find an agreement.
The agreement will also state that you will fully and honestly disclose relevant information, such as financial records.
3) Meet Face-To-Face
A series of so-called “four-way” meetings then take place. Those present will be you and your lawyer and your (usually former but sometimes prospective) partner and their lawyer. You may also invite financial experts or family specialists to be present if everyone agrees.
You will then all agree on a list of priorities (this can happen in advance with your lawyers hashing it out) and then you will work on each issue in sequence at the first meeting and any necessary subsequent meetings.
Finally, you will conclude and discuss the agreement you have reached, sign it, and then set up a process for implementing it with the help of your lawyers.
What Is The Difference Between Collaboration And Mediation?
The main difference between collaborative law and mediation is the presence or absence of the neutral third party, the mediator.
The mediator’s role is to help you and your former partner communicate and resolve issues. In collaborative law, each lawyer is there to represent someone.
What are the advantages of collaborative law?
1) Less Expensive
Engaging in a collaborative process is much cheaper than legal proceedings.
Collaborative solicitors do charge fees, but these are certain to be much lower than those a lawyer would charge to represent you in a protracted contested divorce settlement. Recent reporting seems to indicate costs are likely to be around 50% less.
2) Less Stress
No matter how certain you are that your points are reasonable and likely to carry the day, going to court is stressful (and in divorce cases, things do often get messier than we all might like).
Collaborative lawyers, on the other hand, are trained to work out issues in a less stressful and more relaxed setting. This is usually at a neutral location.
3) Less Wasted Time
Divorce proceedings can last for several months and occasionally years in the most complex cases. Again, using the collaborative process can result in a roughly 50% time-saving.
4) More Support And Advice
Mediation can be an option if you are confident in speaking up for yourself and willing to speak with your former partner directly.
If both of these aren’t true, the collaborative process is worth considering. Here, you will have a specialist legal expert ready to offer advice and support whenever you need it.
5) More Benefits
There are also many other fringe and mainline benefits of the collaborative process, including:
- Greater privacy – collaboration is not a matter of public record.
- Unique solutions that you control – collaborative solutions are linked to what you can agree on rather than what the court decides, and thus probably easier to stick to as well as retain control over.
- Experience in cooperation – if children are involved, you may need to cooperate for years to come. The collaborative process gives you a good baseline and approach for this.
Should I Use Collaborative Law?
Collaborative law isn’t perfect. It can mean even simple issues are dragged out. It can require you to be flexible and willing to compromise. If you can’t reach an agreement, you will have to start from scratch again.
But all of the advantages above mean that collaborative law is an increasingly popular approach to dispute resolution, especially in cases of divorce and separation.
If you think it might be suitable for you, let us find you the right collaborative solicitors for FREE and with no commitment.