When a couple separates, traditionally they will each see their own lawyer for independent legal advice. They will attempt to resolve matters through their lawyers, usually through correspondence (the exchange of letters).
Where that fails, families often find themselves asking the family courts to decide on matters affecting their family and/or finances.
Working collaboratively means working to reach an agreement without the need to go to court. Each person still has their own lawyer but matters are dealt with amicably by way of four-way meetings, with both lawyers and the clients present. Everyone works together to create a bespoke agreement that works for the family. At the end of the process the lawyers write up the agreement and the clients sign it. If appropriate the lawyers will obtain a court order to reflect the agreement.
This process works particularly well where there are disagreements involving:
- Children and the time that they spend with each parent
- Finances following divorce
- The sale of a property where the couple were not married
- Any other matters relating to parenting, including choice of school, a move abroad etc.
The lawyers will be with them at every stage, and can bring in others to help towards an amicable solution. If the family needs support, it might be agreed that an independent financial adviser, accountant, family consultant or child specialist might assist the family.
- The benefits to the clients include the following:
- The process works at their pace, with meetings arranged at their own convenience rather than waiting for a court date;
- There can be as many or as few meetings as are required to reach a solution;
- It can be more cost-effective, avoiding the costs involved in preparing a case for trial;
- The arrangement that the couple reaches will be one to fit their family and situation rather than being imposed by an outsider;
- At the end of the process, the clients have experienced successfully working together and maintaining communication, which assists them in going forward.
In order to make this process work, it needs the separated parties to have:
- A genuine desire to reach a fair solution for the family;
- A willingness to work openly and honestly, giving full information about all of their assets;
- A commitment to reaching a solution without going to court.
Lawyers must be trained in collaborative law in order to assist clients in this way. Holly Coates is trained in working collaboratively and can be instructed on a Direct Access basis, meaning that meetings are paid for up-front, with the certainty of knowing how much it will cost.
Please contact the clerks on 01227 786331 for more information on this process.