What is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative Law is a fairly new process used in Family Law.
In the traditional process a divorcing husband and wife each instruct their own solicitors who then correspond with each other and their own clients and represent their clients in Court proceedings.
In the collaborative process the husband and wife still instruct their own solicitors but, providing both solicitors are trained collaboratively and all parties are in agreement about dealing with the process in a collaborative way, then at certain stages in the process round the table meetings are arranged to see if agreement can be reached through face to face negotiation.
It is quite possible in the Court process for the husband and wife not to talk to each other or to meet. Everything they say is filtered through to solicitors and possibly barristers and so the potential for misunderstanding and misrepresentation is quite high.
In the collaborative process the husband and wife, instead of dealing through lawyers, work with lawyers to achieve their own solution.
The collaborative process helps the parties find their best solutions by agreement rather than through conflict.
This may take more than one meeting but if no agreement is possible the lawyers are not allowed to represent their clients in Court proceedings. The Clients would have to go away and instruct new solicitors of their own. This fact is made clear from the beginning of the collaborative process as everyone signs what is known as a Participation Agreement to this effect before they start. This is a good thing as it gives everyone an incentive to make the process succeed. The clients, on the one hand, do not want to be paying two lots of solicitors for two different processes and the lawyers, on the other, do not want to lose their clients to other solicitors who would then take them through the Court process.
Some of the advantages of the collaborative process over the traditional system include:
1. Being able to reduce the cost in terms of money and emotion of the Court process.
2. It encourages communication and information sharing between husband and wife which is a positive thing for the future, especially when there are children involved.
3. It enables the parties to have some control of the outcome and to do so in a dignified way.
4. The husband and wife are able to set their own agenda and able to take things at their own pace in the process.
5. It is better for any children involved to know and see their parents working together to find a solution rather than fighting each other at Court.
If anyone wants to instruct a collaborative lawyer, they should contact Resolution (which used to be Solicitors Family Law Association) for a list of appropriately qualifies lawyers although you should be aware that Tim Guppy here is a qualified collaborative lawyer (and a member of both the Bournemouth and Somerset groups of collaborative lawyers locally).