Collaborative Family Law
Collaborative Law is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that aims to help parties to reach agreement on a particular matter without going to court. Collaborative Lawyers are specially trained and have excellent listening and negotiating skills.
Collaborative Divorce is a process whereby the disputes arising from divorce and separation, such as child arrangements and financial settlements, are negotiated by all parties, including the respective Divorce Solicitors. All parties sign a contract at the outset to work in a constructive manner that will avoid litigation. All parties must agree that negotiation will be conducted openly and, as far as possible, in an amicable manner.
At Goodells Family Law, we can assist you in a Collaborative Divorce which will be conducted in a non-confrontational, co-operative manner as far as is practicably possible.
What are the benefits of collaborative divorce?
During the process of divorce and separation, if there are issues that you cannot agree on, the finances or arrangements for children perhaps, you will need to find a way to resolve the dispute. Going to court can be stressful, costly, and, ultimately, the judge will decide the measures to be put in place for you and your family. This can make divorce feel like a battle ground, with winners and losers and may become very difficult for everyone involved.
The process of Collaborative Divorce means that you agree to negotiate and reach agreement without going to court. You, your former spouse or civil partner, and your respective collaborative law solicitors will agree to participate in a series of round-table, face-to-face meetings (sometimes known as four-way meetings) in which you, as a couple, are able to keep control over the divorce settlement and arrangements for children, while also ensuring that complex legal matters can be addressed with clarity.
Statistics show that when a couple has reached their divorce agreement collaboratively they are more likely to adhere to the arrangements than when a court has decided for them.
Collaborative divorce or mediation?
If you cannot reach an agreement and you want to apply to the court to seek a financial settlement or a Child Arrangements Order, you will need to show the court you have considered other ways of reaching agreement, this usually means that you will need to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
During mediation the mediator, an independent third party works with you and your former spouse to try to help you see how an agreement can be reached. However, the mediator cannot give you legal advice about your situation and if there are complex legal aspects of the divorce, such as a jointly held business or overseas properties, or perhaps your spouse is not providing full financial disclosure, a mediator is unlikely to have the expertise to assist you fully. When there are obscure or convoluted issues to resolve, an agreement reached during mediation may not be the fairest possible for your particular situation.
During Collaborative Divorce negotiation, other types of specialist practitioner can attend the round table meetings as well as your divorce solicitor. These could be experts in matters relating to pensions or business accounts. You could also have family therapists attend, to handle emotional matters that you might foresee when establishing family arrangements. All these experts can help you and your partner seek the fairest divorce, so that your best interests, and that of your family, are maintained.
Will collaborative divorce work for me?
A Collaborative Law approach is often appropriate in circumstances where communication between the separating couple remains amicable but the issues are complex, therefore advice and representation is required from experienced divorce solicitors and other specialists.
The agreement you sign at the start can set out exactly how you would like the process to proceed. For instance, it can stipulate your priorities for the negotiations, the number and frequency of meetings, and the requirement for respectful and non-confrontational conduct at all times.
In all Collaborative Divorce negotiations, this signed agreement must state that all parties will work towards an out-of-court agreement, and this means each side is motivated to strive towards this outcome. Importantly, when working towards a collaborative settlement, you will need to agree that if a settlement cannot be reached and you feel obliged to issue proceedings, you and your spouse will each instruct new lawyers. This then becomes a major incentive for all parties to actively engage in the process and reach agreement.
Is a collaborative divorce agreement legally binding?
The agreement you reach during Collaborative Law negotiations can be made enforceable by applying to the court for a Consent Order to reflect the terms of agreement. This means that if one or other party does not uphold the agreement, the other party can apply to the court to have it enforced.
This might be necessary if one party has agreed to pay a sum of money and they fail to do so, or perhaps, the agreed child arrangements have been breached. Under a Consent Order, the court can make a demand for the monies to be paid or for the child arrangements to be reinstated; the court can also punish the transgressor with a fine or, in the worst case scenario, a custodial sentence.
Goodsells' collaborative lawyer
As a collaboratively trained lawyer, Donna Goodsell can offer a non-confrontational approach to dispute resolution. Donna has experience and expertise in this niche area and with excellent listening skills alongside well-honed negotiation techniques, her abilities to provide representation during a Collaborative Divorce can help you seek the outcomes you desire.
For comprehensive advice on all Divorce and Family Law matters, contact Goodsells Family Law. We will give you the time to explain your situation clearly and then we will explain your options. Our advice is tailored to your circumstances and aims to help you achieve the outcomes you desire for you and your family. We offer competitive and cost effective rates on all divorce work.