When a relationship breaks down, Collaborative Law offers separating or divorcing couples the chance to reach their own solutions with dignity and respect, with the assistance of specialist, collaborative family lawyers and other professionals.

In the Collaborative process, the separating or divorcing couple:

  • commits to resolving all issues arising out of the breakdown of their relationship out of court, through a series of roundtable meetings
  • has the support of each person’s family solicitor at each meeting; the intention is for the couple to work with their collaborative lawyers and other professionals to find the right solution for the whole family, based upon shared needs and aspirations
  • both disclose their financial circumstances within the process, normally by Form E, ensuring there is full financial disclosure
  • is assisted by other professionals, where agreed in the process. This often involves a family consultant (a specially trained therapeutic professional), whose role includes providing emotional support or practical guidance on child issues and a financial neutral (a specially trained financial advisor), whose role is to assist in reality-testing options and assessing the financial implications of a proposed settlement.

Collaborative Law has many benefits

  • It encourages and promotes ongoing co-operation, trust and communication between separating partners; this is critical, particularly where the separating or divorce couple have children
  • By exploring a range of options (rather than the traditional positional approach to court proceedings), the separating couple can find a tailored solution which best suits the needs and aspirations of each person
  • It avoids the uncertainty and considerable stress which court proceedings can entail
  • It involves lawyers working together, rather than against one other, to assist you collaboratively in coming to an agreement
  • It is a process through which a range of professional support can be accessed to achieve the optimum overall solution – both family consultancy (in relation to the emotional aspects of separation and how to manage issues relating to your children) and financial planning advice (through the involvement of the financial neutral)
  • The process is better value for money than court proceedings and provides substantial additional value in building long-term solutions.

The process

At our initial meeting, in the context of explaining all options to you, we will share how the collaborative process works and help you assess whether or not it may be for you.

If you decide you wish to embark on the collaborative process, we normally introduce you to a family consultant before the first face-to-face meeting. The family consultant normally meets you and your partner individually and together and will then help you throughout the process.

The first meeting normally involves you, your partner, your collaborative lawyers and the family consultant. Everyone will sign a Participation Agreement, which includes a provision stating that, if the process breaks down, each person will need to find a different solicitor. Everyone is therefore fully committed to endeavouring to reach a solution in the process.

Where appropriate, a financial neutral and/or other professionals (such as an accountant to look at business valuation issues or a barrister to provide a jointly-instructed legal opinion) can be instructed to assist in the process.

Edward Cooke is a member of the Three Counties Family Law Group and the Chichester and South Downs Collaborative Law Group.

Both are groups of collaborative law professionals, including collaborative lawyers and family consultancy professionals.

Get in touch

We are here to help.

We offer meetings in our offices or online to suit you. To make an initial appointment please click here and complete the contact form, or if you would rather speak to a member of our friendly team directly please call 01243 769001.

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