A Simple Guide to Collaborative Law

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Collaborative law, with its emphasis on discussion and the reaching of an out of court settlement, can offer a non confrontational solution to ending a marriage. The collaborative law process can work as follows:

1. You will have a meeting with a collaborative lawyer - lawyers must have had specific training in the collaborative process - in order to state your intention to embark on the process. Your partner also has to find and hire a collaborative lawyer.

2. Respective lawyers can then arrange a first meeting, whilst you will hold separate discussions with your lawyer to prepare for this before meeting with your partner and their lawyer. These are known as "four way" meetings.

3. In the first meeting you will set an agenda for future discussions, as well as laying out the points that are important to both you and your partner. Items to be discussed at forthcoming meetings can be raised as minutes will be taken at each meeting.

4. Also included in the initial meeting is an agreement that both parties sign, which promises that they won't take the case to court and lays out the level of confidentiality that both parties will keep to. A full financial disclosure is required as a condition of undertaking collaborative law, and discussions are held "without prejudice", meaning that they cannot later be used in any court proceedings.

5. Throughout the process, external people such as social workers or accountants can be introduced to help form the agreement to suit all parties' interests.

6. The level of correspondence between lawyers is kept to a minimum during the collaborative process ' keeping communication channels open through dialogue so that the final settlement is a balanced agreement is encouraged.

7. If children are involved in the divorce, their interests are put at the centre of any settlement reached through the collaborative process. Keeping a workable relationship post marriage is seen as important in the process, particularly in emphasising parenting responsibilities.

8. There are situations when collaborative law is not appropriate, such as if one partner has an injunction against them or if a legal claim has to go to court.

9. Once an agreement has been finalised, and signed by all parties, lawyers for yourself and your partner can file the appropriate paperwork with a court, in order to gain final approval to end the marriage. In bringing about this swift ending, collaborative law can offer the opportunity for you to move onto the next phase of your life.


Bonallack and Bishop are specialist Divorce Law Solicitors with specialist experience in Collaborative Law and Family Mediation. Tim Bishop is senior partner at the firm, responsible for all major strategic decisions. He has grown the firm by 1000% in the last 12 years and has firm plans for continued expansion.

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