Involvling other Experts in your Collaborative Law Process

Collaborative law is where the couple come together with their own collaborative lawyer and discuss matters fact to face.  There are no letters sent.  Each client instructs their own collaborative lawyer and they, the clients and the solicitors sign an agreement not to make an application to court. If no agreement is reached in the meetings then new lawyers must be instructed if the matter is to go to court.

Austin Chessell
Family Solicitor and Mediator at Shortands Solicitors

When I started working in Family Law in 2005 I would regularly go to court four to five times a week. I thought that there must be a better way to achieve family outcomes as a lot of the clients who obtained a court order were not happy with the order and wanted to return to court to appeal the decision sometimes.

I trained as a Family Mediator in 2009 and as a Collaborative Family Solicitor in 2013 and have to say that the majority of  clients I act for today go through the Collaborative Law or Family Mediation process and tend to be more satisfied with these outcomes than they would be if they had gone through the court system.  The main reason for this is that during the whole process, they make their own decisions as in which way to go rather than have a court decision imposed upon them.

You need to choose the right process for you but if you want an outcome that focuses on interests rather than fixed positions you may want to use Collaborative Law or Family Mediation.

Clients consult Collaborative Solicitors for legal advice and solutions to their legal problems but when there exists issues outside the legal framework and where a specialist is required then they, the specialist, can become part of the four way meetings between the two clients and the two collaborative solicitors. An order can be prepared if an agreement is then reached in the final sessions.

Involving other professionals does not have to mean costs will escalate. If the other professional can tackle the problem and solve it, it can often mean that matters can be resolved quicker and more amicably.  For instance:

  • Couple Therapists:  it may be the case that you are looking to make the marriage work. In the event that meetings with the couple therapist do not work then the door is always open to return to Collaborative Law.
  • Couple counsellingFamily Consultants:  they can work either one on one or with both clients. It may be that you want to explore how the co-parenting will work during the Collaborative process and as well as after the separation. Family Consultants can also help explore any hopes and anxieties you may have during the Collaborative and post Collaborative process.
  •  Child Specialists. it is important that the voice of the child be heard about how childcare arrangements will work. Some mediators do further training so that they can meet with the child (Direct Consultation With Children) where both parents consent to this and it can be very useful in providing details of what the children want the parents to know to help shape current and future childcare arrangements and how holiday childcare arrangements will work.  
  • Independent Financial Advisors. If the financial settlement is to provide a lump sum it may be useful to consult an Independent Financial Advisor to discuss investments or if the main asset is the pension to discuss how pension planning will work.  
  • Accountants. I have worked with accountants in the past where it has been necessary to value business assets during a divorce. The valuations can provide accurate and useful information to the clients when discussing settlement options.

Working with Collaborative professionals can be done at a timescale that works for you rather than having to follow a court timetable as Collaborative Law meetings take place outside of court.

It can take time to have to prepare a joint letter of instruction through solicitors if you are not using the Collaborative process while any instructions for the experts in Collaborative Law can be discussed in an open forum during the four-five way meetings.

If you want to know more about Collaborative Law you should speak to a trained Collaborative Family Solicitor.

Austin Chessell is a Family Mediator who is also trained to mediate with Children. He is also a Collaborative Family Solicitor at Shortlands Solicitors


Telephone: 0207 629 9905

Twitter: @FamilyLawLondon





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