What is collaborative law?

Our Senior Partner, Jane Anderson, explains the benefits of the collaborative process in family law...

The end of a marriage or relationship is always a tricky time – and it’s often made worse by expensive court battles. We’ve all heard horror stories about friends or family members who spent thousands of pounds going to court to sort out their disputes, indeed spending sums on lawyers which bear no relation to the assets involved. It is sad, too, when the outcome of those lengthy court battles seems to be unsatisfactory to all. But there is a legal process that enables couples who have decided to separate, or end their marriage, to work with solicitors to avoid the uncertain outcome of court and to achieve a settlement that best meets the needs of both parties – critically, all without the underlying threat of litigation…

Collaborative law (the collaborative process) is still seen as a relatively new way of sorting everything out without going to court. Tricky problems are discussed face to face in a series of four-way meetings involving both parties and their respective collaboratively-trained solicitors. By involving everybody (including solicitors) in the discussions from the off, there is less chance of an agreement between the parties being subsequently unravelled by one or two beady-eyed lawyers. The solicitors involved in collaborative work agree from the outset to work together; a very novel concept!

The collaborative approach allows those involved to dictate the speed with which everything is dealt with and the parties have a much greater say about what topics need to be discussed. What is truly unique about this concept is that at the start of the discussions everybody agrees that an application to the court will not be made; this also means that if everything does go wrong, neither of the collaborative solicitors can be involved in a court application. The thought of starting all over again with new solicitors helps everyone focus on trying to reach an agreement.

Collaborative law is a particularly good route where there are children involved. Keeping open the lines of communication is vital for the children’s sake – and any effort to reduce arguments will clearly benefit them. If the collaborative approach is not adopted and matters eventually end up in court, there is always the possibility that the outcome of any court hearing might result in orders being made which don’t suit either parent.

On a final note, the collaborative approach doesn’t work for everybody. For those who cannot bear to be in the same room as their ex-partner, the collaborative approach is simply a non-starter. But if the idea does appeal, discuss it with your solicitor - you might just sort things out more quickly and more effectively than you ever dreamed possible.





To find out more, call us on: 01603 625231