What is collaborative law?
The collaborative process is an alternative to the traditional method that couples often adopt when separating. It presents an opportunity for couples to work through issues arising out of their separation together, whether they relate to money or children.
When I started on the process of divorce after a long marriage I was given 2 bits of very valuable advice. The first was the importance of having a strong team of people around you including friends, family as well as the range of professionals that you also need. The second piece of advice was to go and see James Belderbos. James has provided me with excellent guidance, he listened to what I wanted and then gave me reasonable and realistic, sometimes hard to swallow but always well thought out and above all honest information and help. I truly believe that James cares about his clients and as a result I believe that I arrived at the best outcome for all parties.
Mr W, Leicestershire
The collaborative process is where you and your former partner can, with the help of your chosen solicitors, sit down in the same room and work through each and every problem face to face. These meetings enable you and your family to resolve the issues that concern you the most, with the involvement, if necessary, of other professionals to assist in the process. These may include Financial Advisors or Family Consultants.
In order to adopt the collaborative approach there must be a genuine desire on the part of all involved to reach an agreement for the family as a whole. There has to be a willingness to act openly and honestly in disclosing information regarding assets and to use skilled, trained solicitors who are practiced in working in such a way. Both you and your partner must be committed to reaching a solution without going to court.
The benefits of the collaborative process
Having chosen your own solicitor you will remain in control of the timing, frequency and length of the meetings. You will not have to endure the pressures of attending the local Family Court but instead attend your own or your partner’s solicitor’s office.
You will decide your own agenda and talk about the things that matter the most to you and your family. Frequently in life events do not happen as you might expect them to do so and the beauty of the collaborative process is that it allows you and your partner to adapt a timetable and agenda that suits you most. Sometimes a couple of meetings will suffice but on other occasions four or five will be needed to enable you to reach an agreement.
You will be able to stay in touch with your former partner and understand each other better which will help you in finding the right solution.
If children are involved you will be both be able to work on co-parenting your children and achieving what is best for them and considering their own individual needs.
Whether the issues relate to finances or children you will be in charge of making the decisions rather then a stranger in a court.
Who will be involved in the process?
Throughout the process your solicitor will be with you and they will if necessary introduce you to other independent and impartial advisers who can assist with specific issues to make up a collaborative team. Whilst it is not unusual to use Financial Advisers, Barristers and Family Consultants in any separation, the beauty of the collaborative process is that they will be present at the meeting that are relevant to the issue that need to be discussed at that time.
How does the agreement differ from a traditional divorce settlement?
The final outcome is unchanged. In any divorce an agreement is made, but the collaborative approach gives you first-hand involvement in every aspect of that agreement.
You will still have the benefit of certainty as once an agreement is reached it will be reduced into an agreement for approval by the court.
What happens if an agreement cannot be reached?
Sometimes, it is not possible to reach an amicable settlement. In this situation the parties involved can revert to the court process. Traditionally this involves each party taking independent advice from a specialist family lawyer who will help them in trying to achieve a settlement. They may work out how to share the assets, how to look after the children and plan to live their lives separately. For some couples this is their preferred route to take.
Is a collaborative approach right for you?
James Belderbos is our collaborative law trained solicitor, he can give you all the information you need to decide if the collaborative approach is a good fit for you.
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