Collaborative Law – How is it different from family mediation and conventional divorce?

Collaborative law can offer a speedier alternative both to traditional divorce and civil partnership dissolution – and sometimes to the family mediation process. With discussion and problem sharing and solving at the centre of collaborative law, control of a divorce is handed back to a couple, rather than put into the hands of a judge.

Within a traditional divorce case, correspondence is exchanged between opposing family law solicitors, and court appearances follow, all at high expense to a divorcing couple. Court appearances can be scheduled months apart, and a prolonged process can often be damaging to a spouse’s financial and emotional well being. In collaborative law, an out of court settlement, structured in a non aggressive and amicable style, is encouraged, with an incentive that if an agreement is not reached, then a couple will have to appoint new legal advisers. This would increase expense for a couple, who may have fallen into a cycle of recrimination and constant grievance airing. Thus, collaborative law seeks to create a lasting and final settlement, catering for both parties, and especially the needs of any children involved.

In mediation, a couple meet, with their solicitors excluded, along with a neutral mediator. A mediator will seek to help a couple reach a solution, though will not offer specific legal advice to either side, whereas this is not the case with collaborative law. During the collaborative law process, solicitors for both sides are on hand to offer tailored advice to their clients at each stage of discussions. During mediation, solicitors often enter the process at too late a stage to offer advice, whereas collaborative law offers a more staged approach, with a family solicitor meeting with his opposite number and client regularly to plan meetings and discuss progress.

Once an agreement is reached, both parties involved will sign the paperwork, and lawyers can then file documents with a court for final approval. In comparison with the often stressful and time consuming process of divorce, collaborative law offers both a speedier resolution, and closure on a troubling chapter of a couples’ lives, and allows them to move on from a marriage.

The whole process of getting divorced is never an easy one. However, the involvement of a collaborative law solicitor or family law mediator can play a significant role in taking much of the stress and friction out of the whole divorce process.

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