How Does The Collaborative Law Process Work?
At the outset, an agreement is signed by everyone concerned. It commits everyone not to commence court proceedings and sets out the objectives of the process. It includes the obligation and responsibility to be respectful, cooperative and honest and to work together to reach an agreement.
There will be a series of four-way meetings between you, your former spouse / civil partner and your respective family lawyers during which information will be exchanged and negotiations will take place.
You will be at the centre of the process of exploring options and creating solutions with your family lawyer tailored to your own circumstances.
Once agreement has been reached your family lawyers will set out the agreement in a Court Order, which will then be submitted to the court for approval and sealed to make the order legally effective (please note this applies to married couples / civil partners only).
How Long Will The Collaborative Law Process Take?
To reach an agreement using collaborative law, provided both parties are able to negotiate in this way, should be much quicker than using the court process. An agreement could be reached as stated above within four meetings. Potentially therefore this could be finalised within three months although the timeframe will ultimately be decided by the parties. However the order will still need to be agreed and sealed by the court and if you wish to take divorce proceedings this will take further time.
What Happens If No Agreement Is Reached?
You are protected against any negotiations being revealed in future negotiations or in court proceedings. Also, because both family lawyers will have been trying to help you reach a settlement in an open and cooperative way, it is important that your lawyer and your former spouse / civil partner’s lawyer do not continue to be involved. There is therefore a blanket rule that, if no agreement is reached under Collaborative Law, you and your former spouse / civil partner each have to find a new lawyer to represent you from that point onwards. We can understand that this practice point may be a cause for concern but there are many good reasons for this, which a collaborative lawyer would be happy to discuss with you in more detail.
Resolution is responsible for training Collaborative lawyers. You can search for a member at www.resolution.org.uk.
At Hartnell Chanot & Partners we have five collaborative lawyers: Jane Chanot, Norman Hartnell, Caroline Ryan, Jill Read-Brown and Jonathan Madge.