Family breakdown is difficult whatever the circumstances.

The Collaborative process emphasises discussion and meetings whilst being separately represented to come to an appropriate settlement.

The first step is to meet with your collaboratively trained lawyer and to decide if this process is right for you. At this stage you will get full advice on the issues in your case and the options and receive advice if this right for you.

You then sign up to an agreement with the other side and their lawyer which commits you to trying to resolve the issues without going to Court. If at a later stage this process breaks down your collaborative lawyer would be prevented from representing you in Court because due to the nature of the discussions that take place all parties would have agreed this at the outset. This removes the “litigation mindset” and the threat of costly court proceedings. Parties know that if they leave the process they have to start again with alternative representation.

Once the agreement is signed you and your lawyer will agree what preparation needs to take place for the first four way meeting between you, your lawyer the other side and their lawyer.

This could include enlisting the assistance of other professionals if your case needs it for example the assistance of a financial advisor.

At the first four way meeting you will be invited to share your objectives for example in relation to the children and you will all plan the agenda for the next meeting. You will also discuss how financial information is to be shared.

You will all agree the date for the next meeting, what needs to be done by way of preparation to enable you to reach agreement on how finances are to be shared and what arrangements need to be made for the children.

This will lead to a final meeting where agreements that have been made are drawn up and steps agreed to implement those agreements, for example the transfer of property from one party to another, discussion will also take place with regard to timescales for these things to happen.

If however you instruct a non collaborative lawyer then this process is not open to you and will not probably be discussed.

Why is this process better?

There is little correspondence and no court proceedings therefore usually reducing the costs. We believe the process is less costly and dignity and respect are maintained throughout.

The timescale can be chosen by the parties and not dictated by the Court.

Parties are able to resolve matters in often difficult circumstances without the need for court proceedings and whilst ensuring their objectives are met.

‘I found the use of Collaborative Law very helpful in that the difficult and stressful situation that we were dealing with was made less divisive and the resulting agreement being made a better starting point for our future’.