Collaborative family law is an out-of-court cooperative method of separation that allows couples to resolve their issues with a ‘less adversarial, more solution-oriented’ approach.
Deciding to separate is a big decision. Even more so if there are children involved. The collaborative process involves working together as a separating couple, with the support and advice of Resolution-trained solicitors, to ensure that you find the best solution for you as a family.
As a separating parent, you don’t have the choice to simply walk away. You and your ex-partner have a responsibility to try to make the best of the situation and find a way to co-parent in the future. Collaborative family law is designed to facilitate clear communication and fair decision-making, ensuring couples receive the professional legal guidance they need without the need to go to court.
How does collaborative family law work?
When you first decide to separate, you will need to meet with a family law solicitor to discuss your options. These may include mediation, arbitration, court divorce, or collaborative family law, depending on your circumstances and requirements. Should you decide collaborative family law is right for you, you will each need to appoint your own solicitor, who will work with you throughout the process.
Before you begin, you will need to sign an agreement to show you are committed to resolving your disputes through collaboration – this agreement prevents your solicitor from representing you in court if you do choose to pursue any further legal action. The purpose of collaboration is to negotiate, cooperate and find a mutually beneficial solution for you, your ex, and your family as a whole, so it’s important to be prepared to discuss the logistics of separation in a series of group meetings.
Once you have signed the collaborative agreement, you will then meet individually with your solicitors to discuss the best way forward for your situation and what information you will need to prepare for further meetings. Your solicitors will also organise a meeting between them to ensure that they have all the right information to continue.
You can then choose the timetable and agenda for a series of four-way meetings between you, your ex, and both your solicitors. These meetings will be used to discuss the details of your separation, deal with disagreements, and work towards a final resolution. During these meetings you may discuss living arrangements, children’s issues, the division of assets, finances and property, and arrange the practicalities of your separation.
Is collaborative family law right for me?
Collaborative family law is based on cooperation and negotiation, and each meeting should bring you closer to a final resolution, with the guidance of your solicitors. At your final meeting, your solicitors will prepare documents detailing your agreement, and explain any further steps that need to be taken.
By entering into the collaborative process you will make a commitment to resolve your relationship issues through cooperation, discussion, and compromise. And while the process may have its challenges, many couples – parents in particular – find it to be an effective and positive method of separation. This type of open communication, supported by experienced family lawyers, can help you to move on and find the best solution for your circumstances with dignity and respect.
Collaborative family law is often considerably faster, cheaper, more flexible and less stressful than taking a divorce case to court, since you are able to set the terms and timetable of the process and come to your own decisions.
For more information on alternatives to court divorce in the Thames Valley, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, contact Frances Lindsay & Co on 01628 634677 or visit www.franceslindsay.co.uk.
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