Saturday, 12 November 2011

Is Collaborative Law for me?

This new process and the words Collaborative Law are creating a buzz with many family lawyers and it is important to explain exactly what this process entails and whether is it suitable for you. Talvinder, the Director at Leeds Family Law, qualified as a Resolution Accredited Collaborative Lawyer on the 11th November 2011. Talvinder has been a solicitor in the practice of family law for nearly a decade and brings this new service to her firm. The collaborative process offers clients a solution to resolving their family disputes without the use of the adversarial system and moves away from the traditional solicitors practice.

So what is Collaborative Law? This is a process through which the husband, wife and their respective Solicitors meet in a four way meeting to discuss the issues that are concerning to both of them. In the traditional approach, both solicitors would work independently to each other and it is not common that all parties would meet to discuss the issues as openly as they would at a four way meeting with all the parties. In the Collaborative process both parties and Solicitors sign an agreement in which they pledge not to take this matter to Court and commit to trying to reach a conclusion by working together. The Solicitors ensure that the parties interested are protected and the pace at which progress is made is dictated by the parties. This process offers the advantage of reaching a solution that works for the whole family and solicitors do not become positional as they would in the traditional adversarial process of going to Court.

However, for the solution to benefit all concerned both parties must be willing to engage fully in the meetings and work towards a solution. Within this meeting there is still the financial disclosure of all assets and liabilities that both parties must provide and those that believe that they can enter this process and walk rough shod over the other party are seriously mistaken. The Collaborative process would demand just as rigorous an approach from the Solicitors in obtaining financial disclosure without which a fair financial settlement could not be reached.

The issues relating to Contact and Residence are resolved in much the same way with both parties being able to recognise the impact that Separation and Divorce have on the children. Both parties would discuss issues of concern and in order to resolve such issues must recognise the importance of the relationship of the non resident parent with the children. An ability for mutual respect as parents is essential for this process to be successful.

The Collaborative process engages the parties and their solicitors in a way where they work as a team to reach the most beneficial outcome for the whole family. The disadvantage is that if the process breaks down the Solicitors engaged in the Collaborative process cannot represent you in Court and you must instruct solicitors that have not engaged in this Collaborative process. This ensures that the solicitors do not have a vested interest in breaking down the communications within the Collaborative process so that they can add to your legal costs by taking the same case to Court. The other disadvantage is that if the process breaks down then you have to start the process of negotiations again and adopt the traditional, adversarial Court approach.

It is pleasing to report however, that those who engage in the Collaborative process openly and with honesty are extremely likely to resolve their case within this process. Statistics show that 97% of cases that are undertaken within the Collaborative process will settle this way. This percentage is higher than those cases that are referred to Mediation services.

There are Solicitors that offer a similar service and conduct round table meetings but the process is not Collaborative and the Solicitors may not be Accredited Resolution Collaborative Lawyers. It is important that if you want to engage in this process you instruct an Accredited Specialist who is trained and able to conduct matters in the correct way. You can find details of Collaborative Lawyers on the Resolution Website at http://www.resolution.org.uk/.

If you want to know more about this process then contact Talvinder Penaser who is an Accredited Collaborative Lawyer on 0113 3944145.

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