Got Questions? We've Got Answers!

Welcome to our FAQ’s page where you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions.

  • Is collaborative law the same as mediation?

    No. A mediator is a neutral third party facilitator and does not give legal advice to either party.

    Settlements reached during mediation are only binding once both parties have had the opportunity of taking separate independent legal advice and a Court Order has been made. The mediator cannot prepare the necessary Court documents to finalise the process.

    In the collaborative process both parties retain their own independent lawyer throughout the process for their own advice. Their own lawyer is also there to assist presenting issues on their client’s behalf.

  • What are the benefits of the collaborative process?

    (i)You retain control over issues relating to children and finances with the benefit of independent expert advice. The costs and aggravation of going to Court and the need for lengthy correspondence can be avoided. The process also provides the best chance of you maintaining a good relationship with your ex partner in the future. This is important especially where there are children of the family.

    (ii)The agreements can be tailor made to put the needs of your children first.

    (iii)The process is a non aggressive and dignified way of resolving matters

  • Do my partner and I have to make financial disclosure?

    Yes. Under the terms of the Collaborative Agreement both parties agree to give full and frank financial disclosure and one party may decide to withdraw from the process if they suspect that full and frank disclosure has not been made, or if the other party is being misleading in any way.

    If you suspect that your partner may not be willing to give full and frank disclosure or may be misleading during that process, then that may be a good reason for not choosing the collaborative process.

    If after reaching an agreement through the collaborative process one party discovers that the other has not given full and frank disclosure and that the negotiated settlement would have been different if they had, then it is open to that party to seek to set aside the agreement reached even if by that time it has been made into an Order of the Court

  • What happens if the process doesn’t work

    If the process does not result in a settlement being reached then either party is still free to take matters to Court but neither party can retain the same lawyers. This disqualification of the lawyers who have previously been involved is often seen as the “glue” which holds the process together and ensures that if a stumbling block is reached then the parties and their advisors are more likely to try to work through issues and find an acceptable solution, rather than to abandon the process altogether and rush for the Court.

    It also means that the parties and their lawyers can take time to negotiate sensitive issues without the threat of Court proceedings hanging over them.

  • How long does it take?

    There is no set or rigid timetable (as there is with financial Court proceedings). This means that the timescale can fit the needs of the individual parties. Some cases can be resolved very quickly and others may take longer, but generally speaking successful collaborative cases are resolved much faster than taking financial issues through the Courts to a Final Hearing.

  • Is it quicker than the normal/traditional process?

    As you both have control over what is discussed and how quickly you want to arrange your 4-way meetings, this can significantly reduce the time spent in reaching an agreement. There may still be Court formalities to observe, in terms of processing divorce proceedings and an agreed Order regarding your financial matters, for example. Your collaborative lawyers can advise you as to the timescales involved, as your matter progresses.

  • What do we need to do to start the process?

    You and your spouse/partner will each need to appoint a Resolution trained collaborative Lawyer. All our members are Resolution trained. After an initial meeting with your respective lawyers on your own, arrangements can then be made for the first 4-way meeting and an Agenda drawn up in accordance with your wishes/immediate concerns.

  • What happens at a 4-way meeting?

    At the initial 4-way meeting, the collaborative lawyers will make sure that everyone is introduced, happy with the room provided and that refreshments are available if required. They will then ask each of you to say a few words about why you have chosen to use the collaborative process and what you hope to get out of it. The agenda will be looked at then and it will be normal to expect that the first matter to be addressed would be the approval and signing of the required Participation Agreement. You would then continue on through the agenda and, at the end of the meeting, arrange a time and date for your next meeting and confirm what steps have to be taken in the meantime (if any).

  • How long is each meeting?

    This is really up to you as a couple and how much you wish to discuss/how long your Agenda is for each meeting. Generally speaking, our Collaborative Lawyers advise against pressing on beyond a couple of hours, so that no-one becomes too tired or tempers become frayed!

  • How many meetings will we need?

    This varies considerably from couple to couple. It may be that your issues can be resolved quickly in only 2 or 3 meetings. However, if, for example, your assets are complicated or your positions are quite opposed, it may be that several meetings will be required to resolve matters.

  • What is a Participation Agreement?

    Your collaborative lawyer will explain to you the importance of each party being committed to the process and the risks to both of you if the process breaks down. Because you and your spouse/partner are agreeing to be courteous to each other, not to proceed via Court in a contested manner and to work together to produce a result that is satisfactory to you both (and for any children you have), it is important that this is emphasised in a written document – a Participation Agreement – which your lawyers and both of you will sign.

  • What happens if we can’t reach an agreement?

    The intention of the collaborative law process is that you and your respective collaborative lawyers keep working at the process and negotiations until you do resolve matters! It may be that the assistance of other third party experts can be called upon to help you both move forward, for example a financial adviser. If this simply cannot be done, then both lawyers must cease to be involved and you will need to pursue another option (such as Court proceedings and/or arms length negotiations) via new solicitors.

    Your collaborative lawyers will offer you a 14 day “cooling off” period to consider whether you can return to the Collaborative process and thereby avoid the delay and expense of moving to separate new lawyers on a contested basis.

  • Can we really avoid going to Court altogether?

    Yes you can!

  • Is Collaborative Law for me?

    If you have suffered domestic violence at the hands of your spouse/partner, feel very angry, have no faith in your spouse/partner generally wishing to take part in the collaborative law process or are looking simply to force your views upon the other party, then probably not. If, however, you and your spouse/partner feel that you could discuss matters calmly and sensibly for the sake of yourselves and any children you have, then collaborative law would be ideal for you.