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What is collaborative law?

Collaborative law is a binding agreement between two parties - usually spouses in the process of a divorce. It ensures that they will work together to find a solution to the termination of their marriage, and that their lawyers will not work in such a way as to undermine the other spouse so as to secure a more preferential verdict pertaining to the divorce settlement.

History in England and Wales

Constructive approach
Although it had already been long established in the United States and Canada, collaborative law only reached the UK in 2003. Resolution, a family lawyers' organisation, trains and accredits all collaborative (or mediation) professionals and states that its goal is to encourage a constructive approach to divorce and family law. Choosing collaborative lawyers in the UK
Due to the increasing popularity of mediation to resolve potentially costly divorce cases, collaborative lawyers are flourishing in the UK, and regularly meet to discuss cases and continue their training. The advantage in choosing a collaborative lawyer is that many of them know one another which means any red tape is likely to be cut at subsequent meetings and negotiations.

The process

Formal agreement
All parties, including the divorcing or separating spouses and their legal representatives, must sign a binding written agreement that they will not resort to court action with respect to the settlement of their divorce, including financial matters and those involving children, among others. This does not mean that the negotiations will not break down. Sometimes they do, but if so, then the spouse who takes the matter to court cannot use any information gleaned during the collaborative process as this is deemed confidential. The process
Both spouses need to be committed to the process. This will not work well if there has been a history of abuse or violence. Contentious issues are extensively discussed during a series of meetings which usually take place at one of the collaborative lawyers' offices, although this will depend on the distance between the spouses and their respective lawyers. Resolution
Undoubtedly one of the biggest advantages to the collaborative process is the fact both lawyers will be aware of the full situation, and so, will know exactly where their party stands. This will negate the need for unnecessary time wasting and also prevent the springing of any unpleasant surprises, as may occur in a court case. Nonetheless, the process can be very expensive for the spouses.

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