The principle of the Collaborative Process is that “together everyone achieves more”. The Collaborative Process is a way of resolving disputes or negotiating terms of agreement without conflict. This can be an option for people to use to resolve issues between them when they separate and need to agree issues around their children or finances. It can also be used to negotiate terms of a living together agreement or prenuptial agreement when parties are heading into a new relationship and want to discuss issues around their future finances together. Collaborative practice is very flexible and is very much your process and not your advisors.
The process is non adversarial, although each party has their own collaboratively trained solicitor supporting and advising them. Through a series of joint meetings, the parties are supported in working together to identify the issues of concern and to find solutions which will work for them and their family into the future. Often, we might want to involve a third party such as an Independent Financial Advisor, Family Consultant or accountant, who can provide additional information or support to find solutions for you.
The decisions are made by you and not the lawyers. The lawyers are there to give advice and guide you through the process, but not to make decisions for you. The environment is one of honesty and cooperation. There is no fighting, hostility or aggressiveness. The lawyers involved are usually very experienced and will often have worked together in this way many times before. They will help you consider options that may work for you and your family.
As this is your process, you set the pace, which means that it can be much quicker than court. You can address any issue of concern and this will be addressed. The process promotes honest and constructive communication, which is very helpful for people with children who want to continue to parent their children into the future and be part of their children’s achievements without conflict for their child.
How much will it cost?
We will see you initially, usually at a fixed cost, and give you information about your options which will include collaborative practice for you to think about. When we know what is involved in your case, we can then look at the likely cost. We will offer you a fixed cost for each meeting and agree the cost of any other work that may be necessary for us to do outside of those meetings. This way you will know how much you will need to pay and be able to budget for it.
How long will it take to sort it out?
That may depend on how many sessions you need. Typically though, cases are resolved within 2-4 months and on average 2-4 sessions.
Will I be in a room with my (former) partner?
Yes you will, although you will also have your collaboratively trained solicitor with you as well. You will be able to meet separately with your solicitor before and after any joint meetings if you want to and the content of any joint meetings is always agreed before the meeting.
What if I don’t know what to say or get upset?
The meetings are very informal and the solicitors will take the lead in helping you through them in the first instance. It’s ok to get upset. This is most likely a very emotional time for you and your family. We know and understand this. You won’t be rushed as it’s important that yourconcerns are heard. There can be a break in the meeting at any time you need it. Your input will be needed though. You will need to be able to say what you think and what you would like to happen in the future. You will need to feel confident that you can do this so that the process works for you and you will make any final decisions. Often, if you like the idea of the process, but are a bit worried about how you’ll cope with a joint meeting, there are ways we can help with this. Firstly, we can try a short meeting to see how you get on. Secondly, we can organise help for you which will give you emotional support around the meetings.
What if we can’t agree?
There are all sorts of reasons why people struggle to reach agreements. Our collaboratively trained solicitors are skilled at helping you deal with that situation and often stalemate situations are resolved. There are various ways we can work with you to ensure that the process is successful for you although ultimately, whether there is an agreement, will be down to you and the other party as you are making the decisions. If it is absolutely certain that no agreement can be reached, your solicitors will advice you as to your options at that point and the process will come to an end.
I like the sound of it, what do I do now?
Get in touch with us, look at our useful links below and mention this to your former partner/spouse so that they can look at the information as well. If you both have information about the process you can get advice about it and choose your collaborative solicitors and make some progress.