This a relatively new approach to family disputes, where each person has their own lawyer, but instead of negotiations being conducted by letter or telephone, you and your partner will meet together with lawyers to try and reach an agreement face to face. The difference between this and mediation, is that in collaborative law you will have your lawyer with you throughout the entire process. The aim is to achieve a resolution of the family dispute without having to go to court – What is collaborative law?
The collaborative law process
Initially having chosen a collaborative lawyer, you will meet with them individually to discuss what to expect from the meetings. These are usually referred to as “four way meetings”, as they involve meetings between the four of you, yourself and your lawyer, your partner and their lawyer. There will be preparation to be done for the first of these meetings. Your lawyer and your partner’s lawyer will then discuss by telephone or face to face, what preparations are necessary for the first meeting.
The first meeting
At the first four way meeting an agreement will be signed by the parties and lawyers, making a commitment to working at an agreement without going to court. Objectives will be discussed and an agenda will be planned, depending on the individual circumstances. There may be discussions about other issues that you wish to cover, such as issues surrounding children.
The subsequent four way meetings will be arranged and will deal with the issues that you and your partner wish to cover in achieving an agreement. There may be a need to bring in other professionals, such as Independent Financial Advisers, specialists in pensions. The aim of the meetings will be to enable you to reach an agreement together on how the finances will be resolved, or what arrangements you wish to make for the children.
The final meeting
The two lawyers will prepare documents setting out the agreements that have been reached between you, and in the final meeting these documents will be discussed and signed by you. The whole process can be completed to a timetable driven by you and your partner. In this way the negotiations are not driven by a court timetable and can be tailored to the family needs and timetable.
If you wish to discuss any aspects of the Collaborative Family Law process further, please contact one of our collaborative trained lawyers.