Collaborative Law: Everything you Need to Know

Divorce is never an easy process. It can be emotionally stressful and financially burdensome for the couple. Many couples only see the option of a traditional court-based divorce, which can be time-consuming and bitter. However, collaborative divorce is gaining popularity as an alternative because it enables couples to work together in a more positive and constructive way. In this blog, we'll explore everything you need to know about collaborative divorce.

What is the definition of Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce is a process where both spouses, along with their lawyers, work together to resolve their issues outside of a court of law. The major difference between the collaborative process and the traditional process of instructing your own solicitor to advise you, is that in the collaborative process both parties sign an agreement in which they make a commitment to try to resolve issues amicably and in good faith. The process is also not adversarial; and is designed to help both spouses come to a resolution that works best for everyone.

What are the Benefits of Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce may be a fresh and effective way to end a partnership that respects the needs and desires of both parties. The process has many benefits, offering an arena that allows everyone to express their views with the help of your lawyers alongside you and if an agreement is reached, the ability to move forward to have the agreement put into an Order which can then go before a Judge to be sealed.

It is also possible to involve other professional in the collaborative meetings, such as accountants or family consultants or children’s specialists or any other professionals who it is thought may be able to help with the issues that arise.

For those who want to end their marriage and yet work towards a mutually agreeable settlement, collaborative divorce has many benefits.

How Does Collaborative Divorce Work?

Step 1: Consult with a Collaborative Lawyer

Step 2: Start the Collaborative Divorce Process

Step 3: Negotiation

Step 4 The final meeting: Finalisation of the Divorce Agreement

There are four key steps:

Step 1: Consult with a Collaborative Lawyer

Each party’s collaborative lawyer will meet with their client individually to advise them on the various options including the collaborative process, their client’s rights and responsibilities and help them define their goals and interests. The lawyer will also discuss the costs of the process and their respective billing rates.

Once instructed, the two collaborative lawyers will speak to each other either face to face or over the phone in order to plan for the first meeting.

Step 2: Start the Collaborative Divorce Process

At the first meeting, the respective lawyers and clients all meet together. Each party will have their lawyer with them throughout the process to support and give legal advice.

Also, at the first meeting the couple will have to sign an agreement which outlines the intentions of the couple to resolve their differences in an amicable manner. This commits the parties to trying to resolve the issues without resorting to court. If the collaborative process doesn’t result in an agreement, then the collaborative lawyers are unable to continue to represent the individuals. This puts an additional incentive on all participating parties to try to find a resolution without going to court. The couple will be invited to share their own objectives in choosing this process and all parties will plan the agenda for the next meeting. This will depend on the parties’ individual circumstances but might typically include a discussion about how the children are responding to the separation.

If time permits in the meeting it may also be possible to go on to discuss how financial information will be shared and agree on who will bring what financial information to the next meeting.

Step 3: Negotiation

Subsequent meetings will deal with the individual’s particular priorities and concerns. The discussions may be used to resolve specific financial matters, or to address issues associated with children or to help the parties manage the transition.

The meetings will enable you to reach agreement on how the finances will be shared or what arrangements need to be made for any children.

During this stage, financial disclosures, legal documents, tax forms and other important data are gathered. Once all the information has been shared between the couples, the negotiation process begins. Each spouse is given the opportunity to voice their concerns and discuss their options. The collaborative divorce team, comprised of the couples and lawyers, will discuss alternatives and options and try to reach agreements that work for both parties. If no consensus is reached, either of the couple may opt to revert to the traditional process which would involve each party instructing another solicitor to negotiate and possibly issue court proceedings.

Step 4 The final meeting: Finalisation of the Divorce Agreement

If an agreement is reached, in the final meeting documents detailing the agreements reached will be drafted and signed and the lawyers will talk through with the parties anything that needs to be done in order to implement the agreements. Once, the lawyers have drafted the final agreement into an Order, the couple will review the document and if satisfied, sign it. The agreement is then submitted to the court for approval. Once the court approves it, the agreement becomes legally binding, and the couple can move on with their lives.

How long does the collaborative process take?

As the collaborative process is outside of the court process, a timetable can be built around the individual parties’ priorities and timetables.

The number of meetings needed may range between two to four or five. Once an agreement is reached, the Order will need to be sent to court to be sealed which will make it binding, and the time this takes the court to approve will be dependent on how busy the court is at that time.

Eligibility for Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is not a one-size-fits-all solution and it's not suitable for every couple. Collaboration is ideal for those who are willing to work together in good faith and want to find a way to communicate with one another throughout the process. In many cases, parties who wish to try collaborative law are not comfortable with the potentially confrontational nature of the traditional approach of two individual lawyers. If you and your spouse are willing and able to have open, constructive communication, you may be eligible for a collaborative divorce.

Collaborative divorce may however not be the best option for couples where there are issues such as domestic violence, substance abuse, or financial impropriety. If either party is hiding information or has a record of violence, the collaborative process will not be appropriate. Additionally, if there is a history of mental health issues or control issues, a collaborative divorce will not be appropriate. If any of these apply to your situation, you'll be better served by seeking advice from your lawyer on the best way forward.

What is the Cost of Collaborative Divorce?

The costs will differ according to the complexity of the matters to be discussed and the lawyer’s hourly rate. With an experienced collaborative lawyer on board, the collaborative process can end up being cheaper than traditional divorce. Collaborative divorce can be less expensive because if the priorities are a collaborative, respectful and cooperative approach, the process generally moves quickly and seamlessly.

Contact Parfitt Cresswell for a Divorce Consultation

At Parfitt Cresswell, we understand the challenges that come with divorce and can provide you with the experience and expertise to guide you through this intricate process so that you can reach a desirable outcome. Speak with a legal expert at Parfitt Cresswell and take advantage of our free, no-obligation, initial consultation today.

Simply call 0330 912 1009 or email


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