Is Collaborative Law Process Right for You? 10 Questions To Consider.

Austin Chessell www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

Austin Chessell

Collaborative law process 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.

Is collaborative law process the right one for you?  

Here are your 10 questions:

  • Has the relationship totally broken down? If it has not you may want to consider couple counselling with an organisation like Relate to see if any communication difficulties or other matters that have arisen can be resolved without ending the relationship. To locate a couple counsellor or psychotherapist in your area you can refer to the counselling-directory.
  • Has an agreement been made as to how the finances can be divided and how the childcare arrangements will work e.g. during the week, weekends and over the holidays?  If so, then consider working with a collaborative lawyer.
  • Would you prefer to decide what is going to happen to the family yourself or would you prefer for the Judge to make the decision for you? In my experience the separating couple knows what works for them. A judge will be provided with your background situation but what is ordered may not suit either of you.
  • How quickly do you want to resolve things between you? A court hearing can take around 6-8 weeks to get listed while Collaborative Law can work at a much quicker pace as you remain more or less in control of how the time is utilised.
  • Do you want to keep the discussions about the separation private?
  • Do you want the views of the children to play a part in the discussions? Some Collaborative professionals are trained to work with children. They need to have completed a direct consultation with children training, had a CRB check and obtain the written consent of both parents. If you go down the Court route it may be a CAFCASS officer who is appointed to work on the case and there can be several meetings which may not suit everyone’s schedule and it can take several weeks to receive the CAFCASS report.
  • There are legal issues to resolve but also one should not forget the emotional impact the separation can have. Do you want to address the emotional issues too? Collaborative practitioners can work with Family Consultants who can meet you before and take part in the joint meetings to ensure that any hopes and concerns are kept at the forefront of discussions while the Collaborative Solicitors look to aid you with the legal issues.
  • If an agreement is reached would you like to call on the opinion of a financial expert or barrister? This is possible in the collaborative process. It may be one client does not have the same financial or legal understanding as the other client and wants to meet a financial expert or barrister to ensure they are up to speed with what has been agreed and also discuss financial projections or legal implications for the future to check that what has been agreed will work in the long term.
  • Do you want to resolve everything out of court? This is possible with Collaborative Law. It is one of the main principles of this process that you will not make an application to court and if you do then your solicitor would need to stop acting for you. Court can encourage positional stances which may not achieve a good outcome for everyone.
  • Do you want to reality check what has been agreed with your former partner and ensure that it meets the needs of everyone? With children matters this can be important. Even though it may be agreed to separate and live in different households you are still going to need to liaise with each other for future childcare arrangements. Making sure what has been agreed will work can only aid building communication between you which is best for your child.
  • Do you want to reality check what has been agreed with your former partner and ensure that it meets the needs of everyone? With children matters this can be important. Even though it may be agreed to separate and live in different households you are still going to need to liaise with each other for future childcare arrangements. Making sure what has been agreed will work can only aid building communication between you which is best for your child.

The above should give you an indication if Collaborative Law may work and be the right process to follow for you and your former partner if you decide to separate. If you are unsure you can always speak to a Collaboratively trained Family Solicitor who can provide more details about how Collaborative Law works in practice.

Austin Chessell is a Professional Practice Consultant (PPC) at FAMIA across Inner and Greater London.

 Austin is also a Collaborative Family Solicitor at Feltons Solicitors and is a member of the Collaborative Pod group Essex Family Solutions.

 Email: achessell@feltonssolicitors.co.uk

Twitter: @FamilyLawLondon

 

 

 

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