Edward Cooke Family Law has developed Consensus as a solution for couples who wish to resolve issues arising from their separation jointly, using the same lawyer.

Consensus follows the “Resolution Together“ model developed by Resolution and is delivered by lawyers in our team who have undertaken the Resolution Together training. You can read more below, download our brochure and watch our Consensus video here for further information. 


What is special about Consensus?

Your Consensus lawyer will be a highly skilled lawyer mediator

Unlike some “one couple, one lawyer” services, Consensus is delivered only by experienced, qualified family lawyer mediators who are experts in helping couples safely reach agreement together in mediation and other non-court environments.

Family Consultancy support

Divorce is an emotional journey too. We recognise this, so couples using Consensus have access to support throughout the Consensus journey from a Family Consultant, who is a qualified couples counsellor.

Consensus is part of our suite of out-of-court resolution services

Consensus is not for every couple. It is, however, fully integrated with our other out-of-court resolution services such as mediation, collaborative law and solicitor-supported negotiation, so if Consensus is not for you, you can move seamlessly into another out-of-court route.

Consensus is a bespoke, tailored approach

Every separation is different. Consensus provides flexibility – while you will only have one Consensus lawyer, if additional support from another professional such as a Financial Neutral or Early Neutral Evaluator may help the couple reach a resolution, this support can be brought in.

Transparent, pay-as-you-go pricing structure

Consensus is a fully transparent, pay-as-you-go model. This means you know exactly what you are paying for as you travel through the Consensus journey.

Consensus leads seamlessly to final agreement

Your Consensus Lawyer will draft up any final agreement by way of a Consent Order for approval by a judge. Where there are discussions over children issues, a court is often not required but a Parenting Plan can be prepared by your Consensus Lawyer.

How does Consensus work?

After initial contact with the firm, every Consensus journey typically has five stages:

You meet with us together. 

We will explain at this meeting how Consensus will work, explore whether Consensus is the right route for you (or whether an alternative out-of-court route may be better suited to your needs) and answer any questions you may have.

You each complete an online questionnaire before meeting with us individually.

This meeting is important so we can ensure you are both ready for the first joint meeting, discuss your priorities and consider what financial disclosure may be required. 

You sign an agreement to use Consensus at the start of the first joint meeting.

Over the course of the meetings, financial disclosure will take place, as well as discussions over financial matters and issues relating to children.

Appropriate other professional support from a Financial Neutral or Early Neutral Evaluator is brought in when required. By the end of the joint meetings, an agreement is reached.

It is important that both parties have time to reflect, so before we move to stage five, there will be a 14-day period to enable you to reflect on whether you are content to proceed with the agreement.

Your Consensus Lawyer drafts up a financial agreement (Consent Order or Separation Agreement) and an agreement in relation to children (Parenting Plan).

The Consent Order will be lodged online at court and once approved by a judge, it will be implemented (for example if the house is being sold or maintenance is being paid, this will come into force).

You will apply for the final stage in any divorce at this stage (the Final Divorce Order).

Our integrated approach

Consensus is part of an integrated suite of out-of-court solutions we offer to enable people to reach agreement constructively. 

Direct Agreement – you agree matters directly without the need to involve a lawyer. You can then ask the lawyer to prepare a legal document confirming the agreement – by way of a Consent Order, Separation Agreement or Parenting Plan.

Consensus – you agree matters with one lawyer through a series of joint meetings with your Consensus Lawyer, who can give you advice together. Other professionals can assist where required.

Mediation -you meet with an independent mediator whose role is to assist you in reaching agreement. You may choose to have independent legal advice from separate solicitors alongside the process. Other professionals can assist where required.

Hybrid Mediation – similar to mediation however in hybrid mediation, the couple is often supported in meetings by their respective lawyers. The mediator can “hold confidences” and have separate meetings with the parties and their lawyers so as to enable difficult issues to be resolved.

Collaborative Practice – both parties are supported by their own collaboratively trained lawyers to find solutions that work for the family. Other professionals can assist where required.

Lawyer Led Negotiation – negotiation takes place between solicitors, often in correspondence but this could also involve roundtable meetings attended by the parties and their lawyers to reach agreement.

Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) – an early neutral evaluator is appointed to give an opinion as to the likely outcome if matters were not resolved and went to arbitration or a court process. This can also be used in Consensus, Mediation and Collaborative Practice.

Private FDR – similar to ENE – used in arbitration or the court process as a way of getting an independent view on the likely outcome if matters cannot be resolved without a final hearing.

Arbitration – an arbitrator is appointed by the parties to make a determination on issues privately, outside the court process. That agreement is then converted into a court order.

Court – depending on the issues involved, there is generally a three-stage process – directions, dispute resolution hearing (or FDR) and a final hearing, at which the court makes a decision.

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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