How do you start the Collaborative Law process?

Deborah Marsh Deborah Marsh 15 July 2021

Collaborative Law can help you reach an agreement with your ex-partner without going to court.

It can resolve disputes by removing the matter from the litigious court room setting and treating the process as a way to problem solve, rather than to fight and win.

In the second of a series of four articles on Collaborative Law, Deborah Marsh, Associate Family Solicitor and Collaborative Lawyer at Wake Smith Solicitors looks at how you start the process.

Starting the process

Clients should be advised at their initial meetings with their own solicitors about the collaborative process, and, if both then agree that the collaborative process is right for them, their collaborative lawyers will have a further meeting(s) with their clients to prepare for the process.

This will involve:

  • Detailed discussions between clients and their respective collaborative lawyers as to what priorities and concerns need to be addressed during the initial around a table meeting (known as fourway meetings) and, what the client hopes to achieve.
  • Clients will be taken over the Participation Agreement (covered in detail in Deborah’s next article on July 20).
  • Clients will be asked to start thinking about what to include in their Anchor Statements (again covered in detail in Deborah’s next article on July 20) and to prepare these.
  • Possible dates for the initial fourway meeting will be discussed, as well as where the meeting will take place (usually at the office of one of the collaborative lawyers) and how long it may be.
  • You may be asked to start to gather together your financial documents or, it may be that this is dealt with at the first fourway meeting.
  • At the beginning, and throughout, thought will be given and discussions will take place as to whether other professionals need to be involved in the fourway meetings such as accountants or, to assist the parties such as life coaches.

There are no hard and fast rules. In some cases, clients already both know that they want to use the collaborative process so the above will be discussed at their initial meetings with their respective collaborative lawyers.

Where one party has already had a detailed discussion with their collaborative lawyer, and having spoken to their partner they agree, they can then have a detailed first meeting with their collaborative lawyer.

The collaborative lawyers’ work

The collaborative lawyers will have a telephone meeting(s):

  • To discuss their respective client’s priorities and concerns so that an Agenda (a document setting out what will be discussed and in what order at the first fourway meeting) can be prepared, and agreed, prior to the meeting dealing with both parties’ priorities and concerns.
  • A date, location and estimated length for the first fourway meeting convenient to both clients will also be agreed.

The first fourway meeting will then take place. 

For an introduction to collaborative law click here

Next Tuesday, Deborah will look at the Participation Agreement and Anchor Statements in more detail. Her final article next Thursday will look at the first fourway meeting and beyond.

To speak to Deborah Marsh about how the collaborative law process can help you call 0114 266 6660 or email [email protected] 



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