Traditionally, each person takes their own independent advice and your legal advisor acts on your behalf to negotiate, or argue, the divorce itself or how the finances will be divided. Usually, any contact between the legal advisors is done in writing. Disputes about children are often dealt with in the same way.
This type of process can cause a lot of distress for the people involved. If any matter cannot be agreed, then following an attempt at mediation, a court application can be made. The court process is litigious and can be a protracted. Separate court proceedings are required for financial and children matters.
The collaborative process is different. You, and your legal advisors, sign a participation agreement to agree that you will not go to court and are committed to resolving the matter together. You still have your own legal advisor (who you can talk to at any time privately) but any negotiations are conducted in face to face meetings with everyone working together to resolve issues. There is not any back and forth correspondence. All discussions happen together and an agenda is set before each meeting, minutes kept and you decide what the next stage of the process will be.
This process is not suitable for everyone and the court process may be necessary for you. We can discuss this with you at an initial consultation.
How do I start the collaborative process?
To collaborate you must each choose a lawyer that is collaboratively trained. You can do a search for local lawyers on the Resolution website.
At Porter Dodson we have two collaborative solicitors, Julia Perrins in our Taunton office and Richard Baker in our Dorchester office. If you prefer, once you have come to see us, we are happy to provide a list of other local trained practitioners for you to hand to your spouse. You must each have a legal advisor at a different firm.
We will have a collaborative meeting with you first and then the legal advisors will talk to each other to agree an agenda for the first ‘four way meeting’. Subsequent meetings are then conducted with the four of us together.
Is this collaborative law process right for me?
Yes, if you wish to avoid the risk of the court process and wish for your separation to be amicable. As stated by Resolution (a nationwide organisation) you must have a “genuine desire to reach an agreement that is fair to the whole family”.
You must also be willing to be open and honest about your financial position and be committed to a resolution within this process.
What are the benefits of the collaborative law process?
At Porter Dodson, our solicitors are highly trained in this type of process and experts in resolving financial matters.
You retain an amicable relationship with your partner for the future.
You set your own timetable, pace and agenda for the each face to face meeting. It is possible for the process to be much faster than the traditional court process.
You get to decide your future and not have a result imposed on you in a court room.
Other professionals can advise you both together and come along to the face to face meetings. For example, an accountant or a financial adviser.
It is better for any children and makes it easier to maintain an ongoing relationship for the benefit of your children.
Once an agreement is reached the solicitors will draft the agreement and file it at court - this is just paperwork and no one needs to go to court.
Are there any negatives?
We do not think there are any negatives, if the process is correct for you. We can talk about collaborative law with you at a free initial consultation. Face to face meetings can be challenging at times but the benefits far outweigh this fact. We will help guide you through the process and support you at each stage.
If the collaborative relationship breaks down each of you will need to find a new solicitor to act for you. This is a very good incentive to work together to resolve matters.
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