Collaborative Law

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Collaborative law is a pioneering new legal approach that offers couples, wanting a divorce, a real alternative to the courtroom.  The process is based on a central commitment from the couple to resolve matters without resorting to costly court battles.  A settlement is reached after a series of meetings where both parties and their legal advisors work together, face to face, to produce an amicable agreement.  Collaborative law has become a popular alternative as it helps minimise emotional stress and the financial cost of divorce, while ensuring that each party has the support, guidance and protection of their own lawyer.

Collaborative process allows both parties to remain in control rather than handing the decision making to a judge. Similarly, instead of communicating through solicitors, the collaborative process involves working with solicitors to create workable solutions rather than confrontation. Collaborative lawyers are specially trained professionals who can direct meetings in a productive and professional manner, protect the rights of their client and work with the other party and his/her lawyer to build an agreeable settlement with minimal time and anguish.

While collaborative law is still a relatively new approach to the divorce and separation processes, it has already produced remarkable results,” says Harris & Harris Partner and trained Collaborative Lawyer Alison Macaulay.  “It is particularly relevant for couples with children and/or financial issues to resolve and has proved the quickest and most practical method for reducing the impact on all family members.  I would strongly advise all couples with children to seriously consider this option over traditional court proceedings.”

What is needed to make Collaborative Law work?

  • A genuine desire and commitment to the process from the couple;
  • A willingness by both parties to give full details of financial circumstances and assets;
  • Skilled and specially trained Solicitors in Collaborative Law
  • An Agreement that you will reach an Agreement without going to Court.

Frequently Asked Questions about Collaborative Law…

I like the idea of not going to court, but how do I know that the collaborative process is the right option for me?

Collaborative law is just one approach available to couples wanting to pursue a divorce.  At your initial meeting, our Collaborative Lawyer Alison Macaulay will be able to ascertain whether this is the best option for you and your particular case.

My partner is far more used to running stressful business meetings than I am, what if I’m bullied into submission at the meetings or feel too nervous to speak out?

You will never be on your own at a Collaborative law meeting.  Your lawyer is there to exclusively represent your interests and will protect your rights.  Before any meeting you and your lawyer will have discussed what you want to say and achieve, so should things get difficult, your lawyer can speak for you.  By entering into the collaborative process, both parties have already made a commitment to working respectfully towards a solution rather than being confrontational, furthermore both lawyers will be dedicated to ensuring the process does not degenerate and that meetings stay on track.

How can a settlement reached via collaborative process be legal if there’s no court involved?

Once an agreement has been made, collaborative lawyers can handle all the legal paperwork and consents required for the settlement (and if necessary the divorce) without the need for court appearances.

What is the difference between collaborative law and mediation?

The aim of mediation is to get couples to reach their own agreement.  The mediator’s role is to facilitate this process.  Mediators cannot give legal advice and cannot implement any agreement a couple reach via the mediation process, further legal advice would be needed to do this.  With collaborative law each party has their own independent legal advisor at the meetings who will actively contribute to the process.  When a settlement is reached, the collaborative lawyers can deal with the paperwork surrounding the settlement and the recording of any legal requirements to finalise matters.

What if my spouse refuses to give disclosure of all assets and earnings?

The collaborative process can only be successful if both parties are fully honest about their financial circumstances and can provide supporting paperwork.  If one party fails to do so then the collaborative process cannot proceed and an alternative route will have to be taken.