Collaborative law is relatively new but the name says it all – “working together”. It is a different way of resolving conflict that is cheaper than a court case, more flexible and, particularly where children are concerned, creates less emotional turmoil. Couples also have much greater control over the pace of things including what gets done and when.
The aim is to enable the separating couple to work together with their lawyers and each other to fashion a fair and workable plan for the future.
The separating couple meet in 4-way meetings with their lawyers. Instead of adopting positions by looking backwards, the essence of the process is to look forwards. With legal help, the parties look at their needs and resources –
who needs what, what do we have, how should we divide it? ”Fair play” has to be seen to be done.
Both parties and their lawyers sign a “participation” agreement. If, subsequently, one party decides to reject this agreement and go to court they have to dismiss their legal advisers and start again with new ones. This provides a very strong incentive to stay at the table and keep talking. Sometimes other professionals join the meetings, such as counsellors or financial advisors, to help the discussions move forward. All are collaboratively trained.
Cambridge boasts one of the strongest groups of collaboratively trained lawyers and other professionals in the country. While not suitable for all cases, it is definitely a constructive way of dealing with conflict.