Collaborative Law – what is it and how does it work?

Collaborative law is an alternative to mediation. It’s a legal process that allows couples who’ve decided to separate or end their marriage to work with a trained professional and avoids court proceedings to settle any disputes.

This voluntary process helps both couples achieve a fair settlement. It’s initiated by the couple signing a contract binding each other to the process and can be used to cover a wide range of disputes including between parents. It basically means they agree to work to a solution without going to court.

Collaborative law is also more cost effective for all parties involved as only one specialist professional is needed for the process.

It can also cover pre- and post-marital contracts. Most couples would probably prefer to start their married life with these documents drawn up with consent and mutual agreement. And this process is an ideal way to do that.

What’s the difference between collaborative law and mediation?

With collaborative law a couple is represented by one trained professional. Whereas with mediation, a trained un-biased third-party mediator will work with the couple and their respective solicitors to find common ground. Although the aim is still to help couples to reach a settlement without the need to go to court. But if mediation doesn’t work, ultimately there may still be a need to attend court.

So why use collaborative law?

The process can be more successful in the long term than going to court. Couples who’ve reached a settlement through their own negotiations are more likely to stick to the terms agreed rather than having terms imposed on them from a court.

It can also be useful for cases where a family business is involved, for example farms. It’s obviously an advantage for the business to continue while all the details are sorted out and agreed.

Once an agreement is reached, the solicitor can draw up a document to submit to the court for approval. This then gives it a legal seal of approval.

What makes a good collaborative law solicitor?

They not only have to be properly trained, they should also be a good listener. They should have good negotiating skills to make sure that both parties get the best out of the process.

Is it right for me?

If you’d prefer to not to go to court, then collaborative law may be a suitable alternative to resolving marital disputes. It can be more successful than the traditional court route but does require both parties to work together. It’s certainly more cost effective and may be a less stressful approach to dealing with a marriage breakdown.

A solicitor that’s experienced in family law will be able to advise whether or not this approach is right for you. We’re fortunate at Bowcock & Pursaill to have our own trained professional. Lisa Cogger is our family and matrimonial specialist who’s also fully trained in collaborative law.

If you’d like to speak to her about this alternative approach, please get in touch.

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