Collaborative Law Solicitors
Bexleyheath, Blackheath & Petts Wood
Collaborative Law was introduced in the United States first and launched in England and Wales in 2003.
The process allows you to go at your own pace, rather than as dictated by the court. It is much more informal and allows you to put forward your own wishes rather than doing so through a representative, yet at the same time, you will have the benefit of your own independent lawyer to advise you concerning legal issues throughout the process. It will be you and your partner/spouse who decide the outcome, not a lawyer or a judge.
Negotiations involve several faces to face meetings between the parties and their respective collaborative lawyers. At the first meeting, each party signs a Participation Agreement confirming their commitment to the process. The parties also set a timetable for disclosure, experts and subsequent meetings. There may be as few as one or two meetings or there may be up to four or five, depending upon each particular case.
Once the agreement is reached the collaborative lawyers prepared any necessary documentation required to give effect to the agreement.
Does the collaborative process work for everyone?
The collaborative process is usually best suited to those who are genuinely prepared to work together to resolve issues that arise in the course of negotiations and who are prepared to be open and frank in providing information about their assets and personal circumstances. It would not work well where one party is much more dominant than the other or where one party is intimidated by the other.
Why could the collaborative process work better for me?
The process is usually less expensive and can be much quicker, providing negotiations do not break down because you are not constrained by a court timetable. It is much less confrontational than the court route and it saves the distress and upset which usually results out of court proceedings.
If there are children, your involvement with each other will not end after the divorce/separation. In this case, the collaborative process helps to prevent any damage caused by bitter disputes which inevitably impact the children. The process also helps to encourage, from the very start, a relationship of compromise and fairness in the future.
What is the difference between collaborative law, mediation and arbitration?
A mediator’s role, as a neutral third party, is not to give legal advice, but to help you resolve issues that arise between you so that there is no need to involve the court.
If an agreement is reached at mediation you will be advised by the mediator to seek independent legal advice. The mediator does not prepare papers/documents for you, this will be done by the independent legal advisors.
In the collaborative process, each party is entitled to its own lawyer, who will advise throughout the journey and prepare any necessary documents as part of the process.
Arbitration is another way of resolving family disputes without the need to go to court. It is cost-effective and quick. Family arbitration can be used to resolve disputes relating to finances, property and child maintenance, but not for child arrangement orders. Both parties select a family arbitrator who has the appropriate specialism to deal with the case. The arbitrator will make a fair and partial decision based on the information given to them, and both parties will be bound by that decision. You can involve your own lawyer in the process and unlike mediation and collaborative law, which can result in a breakdown of negotiations, a decision is made on your behalf, then achieving finality.