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In family law, how does collaborative practice work?


Collaborative law is a constructive method for divorcing or separating couples that avoids the stress and expense of going to court.

What is collaborative practice?

Each client picks their own collaboratively trained lawyer, and they all meet to hash things out in order to achieve a resolution customised to the needs of the entire family.

You can also form a collaborative "team" with an independent financial adviser, family consultant with therapy experience, young children specialist, or accountant. Because no two family breakdowns are the same, the collaborative model allows you to resolve difficulties in the best way for you and your family. Couples can address child-driven issues, among other things, in a respectful, supportive environment.

How does collaborative practice work in family law?

Every client and their "team" sign a "Participation Agreement" agreeing to resolve issues collaboratively through a series of joint meetings (also known as four-way meetings). This pact codified the concepts of cooperation, transparency, and mutual respect.

You and your spouse or partner determine the agenda, objectives, and timeframe for the four-way sessions in which information and paperwork are shared and interest-based negotiations occur. The meetings allow you to establish an agreement on a variety of issues originating from your relationship's dissolution, such as how your assets will be shared or what arrangements must be made for the children. The fact that everyone has a vested interest in making the process succeed is the glue that holds the collaborative process together. If discussions fail and you need to move to court or arbitration, different lawyers must come in. By removing the immediate "see you in court" threat, you and your lawyers may concentrate on doing all in your power to negotiate an agreement.

What are the main benefits of a collaborative practice?

• Throughout the procedure, you have access to legal counsel and guidance.

• It reduces conflict in your separation/divorce and hence makes it less stressful. Negotiations take place outside of a courtroom in a more casual setting, which aids parties in reaching an agreement.

• It is less expensive than litigation, allowing the parties to begin the chapter after separation on a more solid financial footing.

• It allows you to retain influence over decision-making, making you more likely to follow through on what has been agreed upon.

• Couples with children are more likely to maintain their dignity, integrity, and mutual respect.

• Customised solutions are available, ensuring that everyone involved benefits.

• Experts can be brought in as and when required.

• Lawyers collaborate, not "against" one another, in the best interests of the parties and their children.

• Not governed by a court-imposed timeframe, but rather by family/individual priorities.

• The procedure moves faster than litigation.

• Provides a foundation for efficient communication with your spouse/partner that may be expanded upon when the procedure is completed.

• The financial and emotional costs of squabbling in court are avoided.

• The risk of litigation is averted.

What distinguishes collaborative practice from mediation?

Mediation entails parties meeting with a qualified neutral mediator. The mediator does not represent either party in mediation, and each party is encouraged to seek independent legal advice throughout but outside of the process. Once a "consensus" is formed, a mediation summary is generated, which is then evaluated by each party's solicitor prior to the parties' lawyers drafting a final agreement. During the collaborative approach, each party is represented by a solicitor during the entire negotiation, culminating in a final agreement. If one party does not feel comfortable speaking up for themselves without their lawyer present or lacks knowledge of the finances, the collaborative process's team-based approach may be a better solution to balance the power dynamic.

The collaborative approach is not for everyone, but if you choose it, hiring an experienced collaborative lawyer is the best way to achieve a happy conclusion. Complete Clarity is a team of seasoned family lawyers who have been cooperatively trained and can assist you.


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