The collaborative law process offers separating couples a non-confrontational way of agreeing the legal and practical arrangements for their separation and divorce. By reaching agreement in a collaborative way, couples are able to come to a good arrangement together through supported discussions.
At its simplest, the collaborative process is all about reaching solutions together.? Sometimes talking things through can seem the hardest challenge of all. When relationships break down, hurt, bitterness and anger are often the strongest feelings.
From the outset parties and their agents sign a contract which commits to acting with respect and integrity. Crucially, the contract prevents parties from instructing their agents to raise court action in the event that negotiations fail. Those who take part in the process report feeling more in control without the threat of court proceedings hanging over them. Rather than working through solicitors, parties work with them to reach the best solutions for individual family circumstances. The meetings between parties and agents which take place as part of the collaborative process maintains a level of contact between former partners. This allows the best chance of parties understanding each other's views and assists in them reaching an understanding.
The process focuses on identifying parties' interests which might include:
- Making arrangements for the children
- Ensuring each party is able to meet their living expenses, both short term and longer term
- Identifying and valuing assets that will be shared
- Exploring options for sharing these assets
For the process to work, the right approach is needed. Parties should have a genuine desire to reach an agreement that is fair to the whole family. They should be committed to reaching a solution without the need to go to court and be willing to disclose, fully and honestly, information about all assets.
Children are a priority in the collaborative process. Having a forum in which to discuss and make decisions about care arrangements for the children lessens the impact separation has on them.
Those engaging in the collaborative law process report that it helps lessen the stress and emotional damage which often follows separation. Parties retain control over important decisions about their respective futures and are able to reach decisions in a manner which retains their dignity, integrity and respect.
For more information or advice on collaborative law, please get in touch with our experienced family team.