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Family Law Specialist

Collaborative Law

collaborative law

If you had the choice between sitting round a table with your partner, each of you having your solicitor present to advise and support you, and reaching solutions together about the challenges of your separation, or arguing your case in front of a court, which would it be?

For many couples the collaborative option has provided a less confrontational, and therefore a less painful, route to arriving at a fair outcome, than the traditional process of divorce or cohabitation split. It is especially effective where there are children who benefit so much more from their parents working together to prioritise their interests.

“Why haven’t I heard about collaborative law?”

In the Peterborough area, you may well not have done. Although the collaborative initiative, led by the national family lawyers organisation Resolution, was launched a number of years ago, it has been slow to reach public awareness. Some areas have been quicker to embrace the new process than others, and now in Peterborough and adjoining centres, there are a number of collaborative qualified lawyers available. We operate under the umbrella of ” The Best Divorce Options Group

“So what happens if I want to collaborate?”

Each of you has to instruct a collaborative lawyer of your choice. We will initially talk through with you what the collaborative option entails and advise you whether your situation will be suitable.

Both of you will have to commit to the process and eventually sign up, with your lawyers, to an agreement that includes a bar on starting litigation. The exception is filing for divorce (which is usually achieved anyway without any court appearances).

“What happens then?”

This is the beauty of the collaborative process – the unique features of your case will dictate the pace we progress things (with no court timetable) and each of the “four-way” meetings as they are called, will involve careful preparation beforehand to agree an agenda which covers any relevant topic…some examples…

  • Who is going to spend how much time with the children?
  • What money is needed to keep the house going/to support the children?
  • Shall we put the house on the market?
  • What shall we do about bank accounts?
  • How shall we divide our savings?
  • Do our pensions need to be shared?

It may be helpful for a professional from another field of expertise such as child therapist, or financial advisor, to be brought into the process at some point – you would agree with your lawyers if and when this was necessary.

“It all sounds very cosy – what are the pitfalls?”

They certainly aren’t financial: some collaborative cases can be finalised in one or two meetings, typically in three or four. The legal fees involved will be similar to a conventional divorce/separation but much less costly (on your nerves as well as your pocket) than contested court proceedings.

You will need to be prepared to put in some effort to make the collaboration work.

  • to disclose fully all relevant financial information.
  • to compromise in order to reach a lasting agreement on any difficult issues.
  • put the children first and your personal interests behind you.

It won’t all be plain sailing but the lawyers are trained to steer you both through any choppy waters. There is a real sense of achievement when everyone signs the consent order at the end of the final meeting.

It is predicted that in a few years time the majority of family cases will be conducted collaboratively. The advantage of successful collaboration are immense and far reaching, affecting how you feel about this traumatic life event for many years to come.

Belinda Smith & Co offer a free 30 minute appointment to anyone interested in finding out whether collaborative law is for them.