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Collaborative Law

Collaborative Family Law Solicitors

 

Going through the court system to resolve relationship and family issues is not always the most effective route for everyone. The breakup of a relationship can be a stressful and unsettling time and having to wait for a court to hear your case can lead to the whole process becoming drawn out, with no one able to move on.

However, when you are unable to reach an agreement on any of the crucial factors that will affect your life following your separation or divorce, it is not easy to see any other way to go. At Clifford Johnston & Co, we have family law solicitors who are trained in collaborative law, who help our clients to work through their issues to reach an agreement without the stress and expense of going through the court process. We understand what a difficult time this is for you and your family, and we work hard towards resolving your issues as swiftly and painlessly as possible.

If you are in the process of a separation and feel that you could mutually come to an agreement with the help of a third party, speak to one of our team today to find out whether collaborative law could work for you. We will listen to you, and if we think that you would benefit from it, we will offer you advice and guidance at each stage of the process.

What is collaborative law?

Collaborative law is a process in which people can sit down with their lawyers and work to find an agreement between themselves, without going through litigation. It can be used to work through a number of issues common in family law, such as pre-nuptial agreements, settling the terms of a divorce or separation, or to resolve issues relating to children or financial matters.

It is similar to mediation, where a trained, neutral person works with both parties to work out a solution, but it differs in that both parties have a solicitor present to advise and represent them in any discussions. Trained collaborative lawyers are chosen and their role is to assist in negotiations, whilst keeping your objectives in mind and advising you accordingly, and importantly, they should facilitate as calm a discussion as possible, keeping tensions to a minimum.

Before the process takes place, each of the participants (both parties and their respective solicitors) sign a Participation Agreement, which agrees certain principles and states that court proceedings cannot be initiated while the process is underway. In the event that collaborative law is not successful in reaching a solution and it becomes necessary to go to court, new solicitors will need to be instructed.

Everyone meets face to face, usually several times, until a solution is found, or an agreement is reached. Collaborative law can also be used when drawing up a prenuptial agreement, to ensure that the interests of both parties are fairly represented and agreed before a contract is drawn up. It has been used to great effect in families where business interests are inextricably tied up with family relationships, such as in farming, where a breakdown in a partnership can lead to difficult issues in separating assets.

Whilst collaborative family law is not always appropriate in every situation, if you can use the process to reach a solution that works for you and keeps everyone out of court, then it can save vast amounts of time, money and energy all round. If you are wondering whether collaborative law could help you to navigate your separation, speak to one of our team for advice.

What are the benefits of collaborative law?

Collaborative law is becoming an increasingly popular method of alternative dispute resolution, which many couples are choosing when they decide to end their marriage or civil partnership. There are many benefits to the process, and with each person having their own solicitor present to ensure that they get a fair deal it becomes possible to compromise to reach a solution. One of the most important factors of collaborative law is that the issues and emotions of everyone involved are fully considered and factored into negotiations. Other benefits include:

  • A faster resolution – both parties being able to draw up an agreement between themselves makes for a much quicker conclusion than if court proceedings were required to work out and impose one.
  • Calm, controlled environment - both parties are free to express their thoughts on important matters relating to their separation in a safe and calm environment, making it more likely that negotiations will remain civil and not stall.
  • Better relationships long-term – couples who are reasonably amicable, or who want to be able to maintain a civil relationship for the sake of their children find that collaborative law is the right process for them. Mutually reaching an agreement, rather than having to fight in court for resolution reduces the animosity and heartache that often comes with a relationship breakdown. In many cases, it is not the divorce itself that does so much harm to families but the way in which people divorce.
  • Better long-term chance of success – when both parties play an equal role in reaching an agreement that works mutually, they are much more likely to stick to the terms of that agreement than they would be if the court imposed them.
  • No need to go to court – if an agreement can be reached, the solicitors can draw up a document then and there. This can be submitted to the court to be rubber stamped, without the need for either party to attend.
  • Bespoke expertise - collaborative law offers the option to retain a team of experts in the area of divorce, such as a solicitor, a financial advisor, or a family consultant, who can offer support and advice which you would not necessarily get whilst going through the mainstream court system.
  • Flexible proceedings – Free from the constraints of the court, clients are able to set their own requirements and timetable.
  • Less expensive, and less stressful- compared to cases that end up having to go through the family courts, the collaborative process can end up costing significantly less overall. Without the need to physically go to court to argue the case, people find the collaborative approach much less difficult and frustrating than the traditional approach.

The collaborative process can be of great benefit to most separating couples, as there is a certain amount of goodwill that comes with knowing that both parties are committed to resolving conflict and reaching solutions that benefit everyone without the need to go through contested court proceedings.

Is collaborative law right for me?

Collaborative law can be an excellent approach for many couples, but it is not always the right course of action for everyone. It can be extremely effective in cases where communication has stalled and some outside intervention is needed to help break the deadlock, but the circumstances leading to the separation may sometimes hamper the process. For example, if one person is angry and unwilling to co-operate, it can make communication and negotiation very difficult – collaborative law works best when there is still the will and desire to work together to reach a compromise. In the event that the process fails to reach an agreement and it becomes necessary to go to court for a judgement, both parties need to find new solicitors which can be disruptive and expensive.

However, if there is enough goodwill on both sides to work together proactively to reaching an amicable agreement, collaborative law can be a very positive experience, saving a great deal of stress and maintaining workable relationships into the future.

How can Clifford Johnston & CO help?

Here at Clifford Johnston & Co, we believe in supporting couples and families throughout the process of separation and divorce, protecting your interests at every step. Our collaborative law solicitors have a great deal of experience and expertise in this area, and we have helped many clients to reach fair and amicable resolutions without having to go to court.

We have seen the advantages of alternative dispute resolution first-hand, and if collaborative law is right for you, we will work to achieve outcomes that are fair for everyone concerned. Where children are involved, we make sure that their needs are at the forefront of everything that we do.

If you would like to find out more about the process, speak to one of our family law specialists for a free initial consultation. We will listen to you, making sure that we fully understand your personal circumstances, and that you understand the options open to you and the best course of action to take.

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We regularly help local families find a resolution to the their disputes through alternative methods to save the stress and costs of court.

Our friendly team will deal with your enquiry sensitively and with understanding, so contact us today for helpful and supportive advice.

Our Collaborative Law Solicitors are based at both of our offices and their vast experience makes them an integral part of our team of Family Solicitors in Stockport & in Manchester.

With offices in Stockport (Heaton Moor) & Manchester (Burnage), our expert family solicitors are easily accessible.  We represent clients not only locally and throughout Stockport, Cheshire, Lancashire & Manchester but also across the United Kingdom. You can count on us to help and guide you whatever your challenge or circumstance.

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