Working Together For A Better Future... Reaching Solutions For Your Whole Family
- What is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative Law is a growing type of dispute resolution first introduced to the UK in 2003. The Collaborative process encourages divorcing or separating couples to work together with the support of Collaborative Lawyers, communicating effectively to achieve distinct goals. Importantly it promotes respect between the parties, places the needs of the children first and keeps control of the divorce and separation process with the couple.
The backbone of the process is a series of four-way meetings co-ordinated by the Lawyers which encourage communication and disclosure of facts and information involving both parties. An integral part of the process is that the clients sign an agreement at the outset, confirming they will not go to Court to litigate either the divorce or the financial issues.
Each client has the support, protection and guidance of his or her own Lawyer. Financial Planners and Family Consultants may be asked to join the Collaborative team in order to support clients in reaching constructive conclusions.
Initially each party will spend time with their Lawyer preparing and setting goals before entering into a face-to-face meeting. This encourages communication and full disclosure of facts identifying possible "flash points".
During the Collaborative process, Lawyers must guide couples to a settlement or withdraw from further participation.
- What are the benefits?
- It strengthens and helps maintain long term relationships;
- It reduces the emotional strain on families;
- It provides couples with support, enabling them to build healthier relationships:
- It protects children from disputes;
- It avoids the uncertainty of litigation.
- Who is involved in the Collaborative process?
The Collaborative Lawyer – facilitates negotiations and guides the process. Your Lawyer will advocate for you, identify questions and issues that need to be resolved, provide legal advice, generate and evaluate options for resolution, manage conflict and assist in implementing Agreements.
The Family Consultant – assists in managing emotional or psychological issues that might otherwise get in the way of the process.
The Financial Planner – helps you gather, understand, organise and value your financial information; identifying and clarifying the goals you have, and the short and long term financial implications of settlement options.
Other Team Members – in addition you may find the need to engage other Experts or Consultants, such as mortgage brokers, experts in the job market or child specialists to help consider the options that are presented.
- How long will it take and what will it cost?
The Collaborative process is flexible and will vary in order to meet your specific needs. Most people require between two and six meetings to resolve their issues.
Meetings can be spaced according to the needs of the clients. Once all issues are resolved the Lawyers will complete the paperwork for the divorce, if required. Collaborative Lawyers generally charge by the hour as do conventional Family Lawyers. Your Collaborative Lawyer will provide you with an estimate of the costs involved.
It is difficult to predict precisely what you will pay for this kind of representation because very case is different. Your issues may be simple or complex; you and your partner may have already reached agreement on most, or none of your issues. What can be said with confidence, is that no other kind of professional conflict resolution assistance is consistently as efficient or economical as Collaborative Law for such a broad range of clients.
- Is Collaborative Law suitable in my situation?
The Collaborative process relies on couples who can work together in an open and co-operative manner. It will succeed if you and your partner agree that you want:
- an amicable, respectful resolution of your issues;
- the ability to make joint decisions about financial and childcare arrangements;
- to develop and protect an amicable relationship after divorce;
- to establish a healthy and mutually beneficial co-parenting relationship;
- to protect children from hostility, ill feeling and disruption.
- How do I find a Collaborative Lawyer?
Not all Family Lawyers practice Collaborative Law. To ensure you are well represented and correctly guided through the Collaborative process it is essential that all Lawyers involved are specifically trained and experienced in this area.