In the event of a relationship breakdown where the two of you want to be in control and do not want a court to decide how your money is divided and/or how the future arrangements for your children are determined then the collaborative law process may be for you. The idea behind the collaborative law process is for the parties themselves, with the assistance of their lawyers, to reach their own fair solution, without the cost, uncertainty and potential acrimony of the traditional court process.
After an initial meeting between you and your lawyer a series of four-way meetings are arranged with your partner and his or her collaborative lawyer. Meetings largely follow this pattern until matters are resolved when the court can be approached at that stage simply to approve the arrangements you have made yourselves. There is no need for you to go to Court. All negotiations take place at the face to face meetings. Whilst you are in the process you make a commitment not to go to court. In the event that negotiations break down and it is necessary to issue an application to court, you and your partner would have to instruct new lawyers. This means everyone in the process is fully committed and motivated to trying to seek a fair resolution.
Independent financial advisers and accountants can also be brought into the meetings to give independent professional advice on any relevant issues that may arise such as the valuation of a business or the right level of maintenance payments to maintain a home for the children. If you are business owners, perhaps in business together, and want to maintain a working relationship for the future then Collaborative law may be an option worth considering. Likewise, if you have children with special needs or your case is a little bit more complicated than the average divorce then collaborative could be for you.
The collaborative approach is far more cost effective than Court and puts you and your partner in the driving seat. You have a say in what is on the agenda of each meeting so that each meeting can address what is important to you. The process can move as quickly or as slowly as you like and if one or both of you or even the children need extra support then an experienced Family Consultant can also be involved from the outset. At the core of the collaborative process is mutual respect which is essential for separating parents to be able to parent apart going forwards.
Richard Barge, Partner and team leader based in the Chester office has been specially-trained to allow him to engage in collaborative law. Sandy Edwards, Senior Associate in the family team in Shrewsbury is part of the Shropshire Collaborative Lawyers group and is also specialist in this area of law. Both Sandy and Richard are specialists at guiding couples to resolve their disputes through a mutual agreement instead of the stress and costly option of going to court. Collaborative law is a progressively popular way of resolving conflicts between couples and it could be suitable for you and your situation, with honesty and time, your divorce can be made as amicable as possible with the support of your lawyer. Contact us for more information;
Partner & Head of Family Law
Family Law Senior Associate