Collaborative Family Law
What is collaborative law?
Collaborative Family Law is a relatively new approach to relationship breakdown. The aim of the process is to resolve issues arising out of separation in a non-confrontational way, with all involved, including the lawyers, working together to achieve an agreement. At the outset of the process you will commit to trying to work out an agreement without going to court.
What happens in the collaborative process?
You will both have a lawyer to discuss things with, and who will advise you through the collaborative process. The main difference to the traditional approaches of dealing with things is that instead of conducting negotiations through letters or telephone calls, you will meet your partner face to face with the lawyers, to work through the issues to reach an agreement. These are called four way meetings. You will also be asked to sign what is called a participation agreement, as will both lawyers, which sets out the collaborative principles which you are agreeing to. You can see an example of a participation agreement here.
One of the major benefits of the collaborative process is that you and your partner have control of the timetable as to when things need to be dealt with, rather than this being imposed on you by a court, or there being no timetable at all if matters are dealt with through negotiations by correspondence and telephone calls.
Collaborative Family Law is different to mediation as a mediator cannot give legal advice and does not represent either person present at the meetings.
Once an agreement has been reached you can still obtain an order from the court in the terms you have agreed, assuming that this is appropriate in your case, which is usually dealt with as a paper exercise by the courts. Some courts will expedite orders requested by those who have been involved in a collaborative agreement, as the judges are supportive of cases being dealt with in this way.
Who can use the process?
Provided you and your partner agree that the collaborative approach is for you both, this process can be used to resolve any legal issues arising out of separation whether you are married, in a civil partnership, have been living together as a couple (co-habitants) or have children together.
You will both need to instruct a collaborative lawyer. Our Stephanie Adams is one of the first lawyers to qualify as a collaborative lawyer in the Bradford District. If you do require further information about the collaborative approach, and other collaboratively trained lawyers that you may wish to refer your partner to, please call the office or log onto the resolution website at http://www.collabfamilylaw.org.uk and search under collaborative law.
To speak to one of our Collaborative Family Law Experts regarding your separation, call Williscroft today, on 01274 305380 or email us.