Going Through a Divorce? What you Need to Know about Collaborative Divorce

Vanessa Fox

Vanessa Fox Partner and Head of Family Law hlw Keeble Hawson

What is Collaborative Divorce?

This is an alternate dispute resolution that brings both parties and both of their solicitors into the same room in a series of four-way meetings.

The approach is to achieve an agreed solution to family difficulties out of court and agree arrangements for children and finances amicably

The process means that you see and speak to your former partner and his or her lawyer, which helps to build understanding and achieve the outcome that suits you both best.

In the room, lawyers who have been specifically trained and accredited by Resolution, the family lawyer organisation, work with both of you to reach the right solutions for you and your family.

You will still have your own independent legal team with you – and you and your former partner remain in control of the process and the agenda.

What are the Benefits of using the Collaborative Divorce Process?

Collaborative process is designed to be less combative and protracted, with all involved undertaking to reach an agreement without a court battle, avoiding what can be an enormously stressful, intimidating and costly experience.

Unlike the court system, this process takes place in private, at venues where both parties feel comfortable.

The four-way meetings allow you to work things out together, expressing your viewpoint to your ex-partner, rather than filtering it through lawyers by letter or phone. This produces much quicker responses – and the family lawyers help keep your interactions as constructive and helpful as possible, while supporting you and identifying options with you.

Throughout the sessions, your priorities and concerns will be paramount, as you move towards an agreement at a speed dictated by you, not a court timetable.

A key benefit of this process is that the lawyers sign the participation agreement themselves and thus commit themselves to the success of the process.

As such, they can minimise difficulties and prevent breakdowns in the negotiations, working together to create better understanding between couples. This in turn will reduce the chances of lingering bitterness, which is better for any children involved.

What does this Process Entail? How does it Work?

Collaborative process involves a series of four-way meetings supported by an agreement to avoid taking disputed issues to litigation, which ensures everyone is focused on agreement, not conflict. A commitment to reaching a fair solution for all the family (rather than simply “winning”) is the key.

The final agreement is converted into an agreed court order; a result created by the lawyers and ex-partners together that provides the best chance for a better long-term relationship.

Resolution is often achieved quicker and more creatively in this process rather than a court-imposed timetable and outcome. The couple concerned remain in control of their futures, rather than leaving a stranger (the judge) to decide for them.

Vanessa Fox, marks 25 years as head of the firm’s family law department in 2016.

Collaboratively trained and a qualified mediator, she has modernised South Yorkshire Resolution since becoming chair in 2013 and is also a member of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel and the Children Panel.

Visit www.hlwkeeblehawson.co.uk for more information.

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