Collaborative law and mediation

Collaborative family law and mediation are methods designed to help people reach agreements without the need to attend court.  Any agreement will still be sealed by a judge but he or she is not asked to make the final decision within contested proceedings.

Mediation sees an impartial third person called the Mediator (usually a lawyer) to help couples going through separation or divorce. The mediator is appointed by both parties and will meet with them over several sessions. The mediator is independant and impartial. Their will make sure that all relevant issues are aired fairly and discussed in a controlled and rational manner. they also make sure that any agreement is fully understood by each side. Once an “agreement” has been reached the couple will instruct lawyers to conclude the matter as agreed during the mediation sessions. Strictly speaking, agreements made in mediation are not binding.  Financial agreements will usually be written up into a court order and approved by a judge in order to become binding. Matters relating to children, or where there are no ongoing court proceedings, work by the parties agreeing to abide by the terms discussed.

Mediation is confidential and relies on the open and frank exchange of views and financial information. You are in control of the outcome. You are not committed to anything unless you both agree to so be. At worst, it is worth a try (as long as there is some goodwill between you) and at best, it will make the process less harmful, expensive and traumatic for any children that may be involved.

In collaborative law each side appoints their own collaborative lawyers. These are lawyers who have been trained in and qualified in the collaborative law process. Each lawyer will still be working in the interests of their own client but commit that they will not start court proceedings in order to resolve any dispute. The lawyers on both sides will talk to each other to exchange information and meet with both sides together.

There can be as many of these four way meetings as required to deal with all the issues.

The time taken to conclude matters, using mediation or the collaborative law approach, will be much shorter than contesting matters through the court. If the collaborative process breaks down and an application to court is necessary then the collaborative lawyers stand down in place of new lawyers who will then deal with court procedure. This provides a good incentive for both parties and their lawyers to work hard within the collaborative process in order reach an agreed conclusion.

With mediation and collaborative law, separating and divorcing couples are encouraged to communicate better with one another. They are helped to come to their own agreed decisions about some or all of the issues relating to the separation, divorce, children, finances or property.

Collaboration or mediation can go some way to mending relationships. In our experience, it is often the first time that serious emotional issues will have been discussed by couples who have not been able to communicate with each other for many months or even years. Although couples reconciling remains very rare, they are often able to learn new ways of communicating that can help them as they move into their post-separation stage of their relationship.  This can be particularly helpful if the couple still have many years of working together as parents.

Make an appointment today to discuss the benefits and mechanics of collaborative law or mediation. Remember we can only meet with the person who we will be representing.