What is Collaborative Family Law?
Collaborative family law is the process of negotiating a settlement agreement without the need to go to court.
Clients and their lawyers agree at the start of the process to work together to find a fair solution to whatever financial or child-related issues need to be addressed following a separation.
During the negotiation, couples have access to the skills of child specialists, counsellors, accountants and financial advisers who can each bring their expertise to the process when necessary. By utilising these other professionals, the couple can ensure that their interests are well looked after and that their lawyers are free to focus upon shaping a fair settlement.
Collaborative family law has been practised in the USA and Canada since the early 1990s and more recently in the UK and Ireland. It is now recognised worldwide as a successful means of alternative dispute resolution.
What does Collaborative Family Law involve?
The collaborative process involves you, your partner and your respective lawyers sitting together and identifying the issues of importance in the settlement and negotiating a satisfactory solution. Most importantly, all of the negotiations are conducted face-to-face with both parties present, instead of via written correspondence between lawyers, which ensures a transparent and open process.
Underpinning the process is an understanding that you and your partner (and your lawyers) will act in good faith throughout the negotiations, be open and honest in your dealings with one another and respect each others’ views. At the end of the process when a settlement has been reached, the agreement can then be submitted to the court for orders to be made.
What are the benefits?
Collaborative family law allows you to retain control of the decision-making process following separation. A lawyer or judge is not deciding your property settlement or parenting arrangements on your behalf, and you can be assured of your interests being considered and addressed.
The collaborative law process also aims to reduce the conflict between separating couples by negotiating a mutually satisfactory outcome. Many couples find that this leads to a more harmonious relationship post separation – which is particularly beneficial when children are involved and on-going contact is necessary in order to co-parent effectively.
Why should you consider collaborative family law?
Generally speaking, collaborative family law allows you to resolve the issues surrounding your separation in the manner that best suits your family. It saves you, and your children, from becoming embroiled in an adversarial court case, reduces the inevitable stress on a family that separation creates, and ensures that the best interests of all family members are considered.
It also creates a solid foundation for your future life.