Collaborative Family Law

Collaborative law is one of the many legal options available for those going through the extremely stressful process of separation or divorce/dissolution of their civil partnership or, the equally sensitive process of agreeing the terms of a pre or post nuptial or cohabitation agreement, especially when there are children involved.  So what makes the collaborative approach the right choice?

Collaborative law enables clients to take charge of the process and therefore make their own decisions on the most important aspects of their and their children’s lives, rather than having a Judge or Arbitrator make these decisions for them, usually with little prospect of an appeal if a client feels the decision unfair.

During the collaborative process the parties and their collaborative lawyers all sit around a table working together to try to find the best possible outcomes for future housing, incomes and arrangements for the children.  The collaborative process enables the parties to set the agenda for these meetings, their priorities and their concerns, and the process moves at their pace (not subject to the constraints of a court set timetable).  There can be as many meetings as the parties feel necessary and, all discussions take place at these meetings; there are no letters passing between the collaborative lawyers in which their clients’ points get lost in translation.

Before the first meeting both parties prepare Anchor Statements which set out their concerns, priorities and why they want to use the collaborative process.   All commit to the process so much that they sign a Participation Agreement, a fundamental aspect of which is that if the process breaks down clients must seek alternative legal representation.

Other collaboratively trained experts can when necessary be asked to join meetings and assist or advise.  These can be for example independent financial advisors, accountants and life coaches all of whom are again working to find the best possible outcomes for the parties and their children.

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.  However, the benefits outweigh the negatives and the process allows clients to decide their and their children’s future.  If you are just embarking on marriage/civil partnership or living together for the first time you can use the process to settle the terms of a pre nuptial/cohabitation agreement, enabling you to do so having dealt with what is a very sensitive matter in a constructive and non-confrontational process; using the same process to update the agreement as required.  If you are separating or divorcing/dissolving the process can enable you to move forward having settled matters with dignity and, to effectively communicate with each other, so vital if there are children involved.

If you feel that collaborative law is the right choice for you please arrange an appointment to see our collaborative lawyer Deborah Marsh who can discuss the process in detail with you.

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