The Pros And Cons Of Collaborative Divorce

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The Pros And Cons Of Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce offers an alternative approach to the traditional court process and can be beneficial for many couples. However, given the current landscape, there is some confusion surrounding collaboration, mediation, and other dispute resolution methods. It’s important to clarify these differences before delving into whether collaborative divorce is suitable for your situation.

Collaborative divorce vs mediation

Collaborative divorce entails both parties and their respective solicitors committing to a collaborative process from the outset. This agreement means they will work towards a solution without resorting to court proceedings. Four-way meetings are conducted with both parties accompanied by their lawyers. The objective is to negotiate an agreement between the parties and formalise it into a court order, ideally avoiding the necessity for any court hearings.

Mediation involves a trained mediator facilitating discussions between the two individuals to identify areas of agreement. The mediator assists the estranged couple in navigating challenging negotiations with the goal of reaching a mutually acceptable settlement. Any agreement reached in mediation still requires formalisation through a court order. If mediation fails to produce an agreement or if the written agreement is not satisfactory to both parties and their legal advisors, court intervention may become necessary. In most cases, individuals will engage in mediation after consulting a family lawyer about their situation, and they may require their lawyer’s assistance in drafting a legally binding agreement following mediation.

In contrast, the traditional process often involves negotiations conducted in writing rather than face-to-face, without a joint commitment to reach an agreement outside of court. Collaborative divorce can be more successful long-term compared to the traditional court-based approach because parties are more likely to adhere to resolutions they have negotiated themselves rather than having decisions imposed by the court. Once an agreement is reached, lawyers can draft a document for court approval, giving it legal validity.

Collaborative law is also often more cost-effective since it avoids the need for court appearances, although legal representation remains essential.

Collaborative law has proven particularly effective in cases involving family businesses, such as farming operations, where maintaining business continuity while resolving asset division and future functioning is advantageous to all parties involved.

Is a collaborative approach to divorce right for me?

Here are the 10 key points to understand about collaborative family law before deciding on your approach:

  1. Alternative Dispute Resolution: Collaborative law offers divorcing couples an alternative to court proceedings. Both parties agree in advance not to pursue court actions and sign an agreement to that effect.
  2. Distinction from mediation: Unlike mediation, where a neutral mediator facilitates discussions without offering advice or representation, collaborative law involves each party having their own lawyer present during face-to-face negotiations.
  3. Four-Way Meetings: Collaborative law involves “4-way meetings” where both parties, along with their respective lawyers, meet together to work out agreements directly.
  4. Team of Professionals: In collaborative law, clients have the option to retain a team of divorce professionals, including a divorce lawyer (essential), a financial advisor for financial implications, or a family consultant for emotional support, especially for children.
  5. Flexible Timetable: Unlike court-driven processes, collaborative law allows flexibility based on the clients’ individual timetables and priorities.
  6. Long-Term Success: Collaborative law can be more successful long-term compared to traditional court-based approaches because parties are more likely to adhere to resolutions they negotiate themselves.
  7. Document Submission: Once an agreement is reached, lawyers can draft a document submitted to court for approval, eliminating the need for clients to attend court proceedings.
  8. Cost-Effectiveness: Collaborative processes can be significantly less expensive compared to cases that go to final court hearings.
  9. Reduced Heartache and Conflict: Collaborative law aims to reduce legal costs, heartache, and conflict often associated with marriage breakdowns.
  10. Professional Training: Resolution, the Solicitors Family Law Association, trains collaborative lawyers. Over 1000 lawyers have qualified in collaborative law in the last six years, and you can find a qualified member on resolution.org.uk.

Remember, collaborative divorce isn’t suitable for everyone, but choosing a skilled collaborative lawyer is key to achieving a positive outcome.

What makes a great collaborative lawyer?

There are several essential qualities to look for in any family lawyer, especially when seeking collaborative representation. While none of these attributes may come as a surprise, together they ensure you receive the best collaborative legal support.

  1. Experience: Collaborative law requires a different approach. Experience in handling various family law cases equips a lawyer with knowledge of effective strategies and potential pitfalls.
  2. Expertise: It’s crucial that your lawyer has undergone specialised training in collaborative law. Inquire about when they completed their training and their commitment to continuous professional development.
  3. Keeping Up to Date: After completing training, ensure your chosen solicitor actively engages with fellow collaborative solicitors, stays updated on new techniques and guidelines, and understands the current trends in family law.
  4. Good Listening Skills: Effective communication is key. You should be able to gauge their listening skills during your initial meeting or conversation.
  5. Negotiation Skills: While all lawyers negotiate, collaborative lawyers require a conciliatory approach. Delicate negotiations may occur privately with you to manage expectations and achieve the best outcome.

An experienced family law practice can advise whether the collaborative approach suits your situation.

Avatar of DLS Solicitors by DLS Solicitors
24th April 2024
Avatar of DLS Solicitors
DLS Solicitors

Our team of professionals are based in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. We offer clear, specialist legal advice in all matters relating to Family Law, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Lasting Power of Attorney and Court of Protection.

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