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Divorce law blog

Keep it out of court: collaborative process in a nutshell

28/11/2013   By:

The collaborative process – sometimes called collaborative law – is another way of sorting out the issues that arise on separation or divorce – without going to Court.

Each of you has a collaboratively trained solicitor or barrister, who can explain the process to you in more detail.

After your first meeting with your collaborative lawyer, discussions then take place around a table with your spouse or partner and his or her collaborative lawyer. These are called four-way meetings. All the discussions and the financial disclosure is dealt with during these meetings.

Neither solicitor can act for you if you need to go to Court (except for filing divorce proceedings by agreement or a financial settlement by agreement). This helps to ensure that the discussions are kept confidential, so that you can genuinely explore what is best for you and the family, without fear of that coming out later.

Advantages of the collaborative process

  • It is a safe environment in which to talk – it is private and the discussions are entirely confidential.
  • You have the benefit of two solicitors working collaboratively together, looking at what is best for “all of you” (it feels very different to arms length negotiation).
  • Your own solicitor is there to support you, and make sure that all the important things are dealt with from your perspective, as well as to make sure it is fair for everybody.
  • In the collaborative process, it is more common to bring in financial professionals (to help with financial disclosure or forecasting what income might be or getting help on pensions etc) and Family Consultants, if there are emotional difficulties involved.
  • It is your timetable – you can go as fast or as slow as you think is best.

Disadvantages of the collaborative process

  • You have the expense of lawyers being present, so it likely to be more expensive than mediation.
  • If you cannot agree things, then you would have to instruct another solicitor to tie up the loose ends, or (heaven forbid) take it to Court.

For more information see our collaborative divorce page, as well as our video: what is collaborative law?

Roger Bamber
Family Law Partner
Cambridge & London

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