Collaborative Law - the Participation Agreement and Anchor Statements

Deborah Marsh Deborah Marsh 20 July 2021

Once parties have agreed the use of Collaborative Law to solve their differences, they need to  prepare their Anchor Statements which set out their concerns, priorities and why they want to use the collaborative process.

Parties will have already discussed the Participation Agreement with their solicitors but, what does the Agreement contain?

Wake Smith Collaborative Lawyer Deborah Marsh continues her series of four articles on collaborative law and looks at the Participation Agreement and Anchor Statements, fundamental to the collaborative process.

Participation Agreement

The Participation Agreement is a document that is signed by both the clients and their collaborative lawyers usually at the first fourway meeting and confirms the principles and intentions of all involved in the collaborative process.

The Agreement sets out the principles of good faith negotiations and the terms of the process including but not limited to:

  • Honest, open and courteous discussions that focus on the future.
  • Working together to find the best outcomes for both clients and their children, decided by the clients, as assisted by their collaborative lawyers.
  • Confidentiality of discussions so all options can be explored without concern that these could be used against the clients.
  • All commit to the process so much that if the process breaks down clients must seek alternative legal representation (all therefore working as hard as possible to make the process successful).

Anchor Statements

The collaborative process is not necessarily an easy process or the easy option.  The process can be difficult and the Anchor Statements help remind all why the process was chosen in the first place.  Each client prepares their own Anchor Statement.

The Anchor Statement should set out best outcomes for the whole family, long term goals and can include why the collaborative process was chosen.  It can also include what you hope to achieve and avoid during the process and, what you hope the process will enable you to do moving forward. 

Each client’s circumstances are individual to them, but common hopes are to be able to co-parent effectively and communicate amicably or, for those without children to be able to have a continuing relationship with in-laws and mutual friends.

Clients still in or starting a relationship and wanting to agree the terms of a pre or post nuptial agreement or cohabitation agreement, will want to do this sensitively to move forward together in their relationship. They want to be safe in the knowledge they have agreed the best possible outcome should they separate (with use of the collaborative process to update these agreements as and when necessary).

The parties either read out their Anchor Statements or read the other’s Anchor Statement at the first fourway meeting and, if things get difficult during a meeting the Anchor Statements can be read again to reaffirm and reassure.

For an introduction on collaborative law click here 

To read how you start the collaborative law process click here 

Next Thursday, Deborah will look at the first fourway meeting and beyond.

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



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