“All families matter all the time.”
The process starts with an initial meeting between the parties and their Collaborative Family Lawyers, when they agree how the meetings will continue, what information will be needed, when it will be exchanged and when the next meeting will be. As the process continues, the couple and their Collaborative Family Lawyers decide what further steps they need to take and discuss. This can involve a joint instruction from the couple and their Collaborative Family Lawyers to independent experts who can help with, for example, valuations of property and advice about pensions and investments. In this way the couple can be more certain that the solution that they arrive at is both appropriate for them and workable for them.
It is a means of resolving matters in a dignified and civilised way and should enable you to remain on good terms with your former partner, for the benefit of the extended family.
The parties might agree that one of them will commence divorce proceedings while the Collaborative Law process is continuing. An Agreement between married couples where there are divorce proceedings will be incorporated into a Court Order at the end of the Collaborative process. If either party takes or threatens to take Court proceedings to resolve the dispute, the Collaborative Law process is automatically brought to an end.
Both of you will need to provide a full Statement of your finances including assets and income whether you deal with your finances through the Collaborative process, through Mediation or through Court proceedings.
Yes it is a good way to settle arrangements for your children because your Collaborative Family Lawyers can assist you in relation to that in addition to assisting you in respect of the finances. You do, however, also have the option of attending a separate Mediation appointment with a trained Mediator to discuss the arrangements in respect of your children in more detail should you consider that to be necessary.
As you will have the support of your Collaborative Family Lawyer at the round table meetings then this should enable you to identify and resolve the issues more quickly with a saving in costs, than if there were protracted lawyers’ correspondence or contested Court proceedings. Contested Court proceedings can incur a cost in emotional terms as well as financial terms. The Collaborative process can reduce the heartache and antagonism which go hand in hand with marriage breakdown. Often it is not the parties separating that causes the bad feeling and harm to the family but the way the parties become entrenched in the confrontational approach to divorce. Collaborative Law ensures that the agreement reached is one both you and your partner have settled in the best interests of the family as a whole. Costs will be discussed at an early stage on a case to case basis.
Legal Aid is not available for collaborative law and save for cases with a domestic violence element Legal Aid is not now available for negotiations or Court Proceedings either in respect of divorce.
In cases involving married couples who are to divorce, there will be a financial Consent Order which will be agreed between the couple and approved by a Judge to produce a legally binding Agreement. Cases involving unmarried parties can end with an Agreement signed by the parties and their Collaborative Family Lawyers.
The settlement Agreement reached during the Collaborative Law process is no different from any other negotiated settlement. If the outcome of the settlement would have been different if such information had been available, then it is open to you to seek to overturn the Agreement, even if it has been made into a Court Order.
The Collaborative Law process is not right for all couples. If you or your former partner feel you cannot trust each other and do not feel able to work together to resolve matters for the benefit of the whole family, then Collaboration may not be right for you. You may consider Mediation or working in a more traditional way through your Collaborative Family Lawyers or through Court proceedings.
In Mediation, the Mediator is neutral and the discussions are not legally binding upon the parties. You will still need separate Collaborative Family Lawyers to draw up the Court documents to finalise the process. However, in Collaborative Law a Collaborative Family Lawyer assists you throughout the process advising and supporting you and when agreement is reached the Collaborative Family Lawyers will deal with the divorce and financial arrangements to make the settlement legally binding.