Many people worry that getting divorced or separating will inevitably be long, expensive and full of conflict. However, with the right approach and expert legal guidance, it is often possible to keep the process amicable, as well as making it faster and less expensive – this is exactly what collaborative law is all about.
Collaborative law involves you and your ex sitting around a table, each supported by your own lawyer. The aim is to discuss the issues involved in your divorce or separation, such as financial settlements and arrangements for children, and reach a legally binding agreement for how those issues will be dealt with.
This process can allow you to handle complicated and contentious issues and find a mutually acceptable outcome without the need to go to court. This can save you a lot of time and money while preventing your divorce or separation from becoming unnecessarily acrimonious. Crucially, it can help you to maintain a better relationship with your ex, which can be vital if you have children together.
The collaborative law process can also include other specialists alongside your legal representatives, including advisers, counsellors and coaches. This means you can have access to all of the guidance you need for financial issues, emotional wellbeing and any other priorities you have during the negotiations.
Clare Thornton is a trained and experienced collaborative family lawyer. She offers a free 30-minute consultation to help you find out more about the collaborative process and whether it’s right for you.
How collaborative law for divorce works
At the start of the process, you, your ex-partner and each of your respective lawyers will sign a ‘participation agreement’. This commits everyone involved to making a success of the collaborative law process and includes an agreement that your lawyers will not represent you if either party later decides to issue court proceedings. This means everyone is incentivised to reach a positive outcome.
Both you and your ex-partner will need to be represented by a trained collaborative family lawyer. You will then meet for a series of ‘four-way’ face to face meetings, where you and your ex set the agenda and make the key decisions. This allows you to reach an amicable agreement about how to move forward at your own pace and with advice from your lawyers, rather than having outcomes and timescales dictated to you by a judge.
Provided that everyone enters into the process in good faith, collaborative family law is faster, cheaper and less acrimonious than traditional court proceedings. It also helps maintain channels of communication between you and your ex, which is particularly important if there are children involved.
In our experience, collaborative law is suitable for most separating couples, however, it does rely on trust and a willingness to communicate openly between both parties. We will be happy to discuss your situation with and explore the available options, including collaborative law, during your free initial consultation.
Common questions about collaborative family law:
- What is the difference between collaborative law and mediation?
Mediation is another type of non-confrontational dispute resolution commonly used for divorce and separation. It involves a series of meeting between you and your ex-partner facilitated by an independent mediator who acts as a neutral third party during the discussions. The mediator’s role is to lead you in discussing the issues and defuse any potential for conflict, helping the process to stay productive.
Unlike with collaborative law, you do not have your legal representatives with you during mediation, although you can review any agreements you have come to with your lawyer between sessions. Any agreement reached through mediation is not automatically legally binding, but can be made so by apply to a court for a Consent Order.
Mediation is now the most commonly used method for divorce and separation and can be ideal if you feel confident to discuss matters without your lawyer present. However, where there are more complex issues to deal with, or you want the reassurance of having your own lawyer present during negotiations, collaborative law can be a preferable approach.
- How long does collaborative law for divorce take?
This entirely depends on the circumstances, but it is usually takes more than one meeting to work through the issues involved. We will be happy to talk through your situation and the matters you need resolved and may be able to give an indication of how many sessions we believe will be needed. However, ultimately exactly how long the process takes will be down to how well you and your ex-partner are able to work together and the issues involved.
- How much does collaborative law cost?
The fees for collaborative divorce vary and we can provide a breakdown of our fee structure and indication of what the final cost is likely to be during your free initial consultation.
Why choose Thornton Jones’ collaborative lawyers in Wakefield, Ossett & Garforth?
Clare Thornton is a highly experienced family lawyer with specialist training as a collaborative family lawyer. Having seen how damaging the traditional court divorce process can be for families, Clare has chosen to focus on alternative methods that help families to avoid conflict and put the interests of children first.
As well as her expertise in collaborative law, Clare also works as a family mediator and is one of the few UK solicitors offering family arbitration. All of these methods can be highly effective under different circumstances, meaning we can offer a range of options to consider depending on your situation and needs.
Thornton Jones is accredited by the Law Society for Family Law in recognition of our particular expertise in this area. We are also Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) accredited by the Law Society, meaning we can offer a reliable service for selling or transferring legal title on your home if required as part of the divorce process.
Ending a relationship is also a good time to consider writing or updating your Will and we offer a supportive, cost-effective Will writing service, being Law Society accredited for Wills & Inheritance.
Get in touch with our collaborative family lawyers in West Yorkshire
Speak to our collaborative family law solicitors in Ossett, Wakefield, Garforth, Sherburn in Elmet or Mapplewell, West Yorkshire today by calling 01924 290 029 or ask a question using our online enquiry form.