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Collaborative law

Collaborative lawyers work with you and the other parent to resolve your issues out of court. You each hire a lawyer then all meet to negotiate face-to-face.

The collaborative process involves several steps but is usually quicker and cheaper than going to court.

Choose Collaborative law if...

You can still communicate with the other parent but may have complex legal issues to resolve.

Pros

  • everyone is committed to not going to court
  • quicker and less stressful than court
  • you and the other parent set the agenda
  • lawyers are present throughout
  • good for your children to see their parents working together

Cons

  • can be an expensive process
  • won’t work unless you can trust the other parent and co-operate with them

Step 1Hire a lawyer

Both you and the other parent will need to hire your own lawyer. A lawyer can be expensive so ask for a quote or see if they offer a fixed fee. Some lawyers give free 30-minute consultations.

Lawyer rates (per hour)

£110 - £410

Fees may vary depending on your location and the experience of the lawyer. How long you need will depend on your situation.

Find a collaborative lawyer

Step 2Meet with your lawyer

Your lawyer will first want to meet with you to discuss the case. They’ll need to know more about your situation and what you want to achieve from the process.

Your lawyer and the other parent’s lawyer will then contact each other so they can plan for your first collaborative meeting.

Step 3Attend first meeting

At the first meeting everyone must sign a contract that commits both parties to resolving the issues out of court.

The contract also states that if the case does go to court both you and the other parent must hire new lawyers. This means it’s in everyone’s interests to make sure the negotiations don’t break down.

Before you start to negotiate your lawyers will ask you and the other parent to share your priorities and concerns.

Step 4Sign the agreement or set a date for next meeting

Collaborative law is a flexible process so how many meetings you’ll need to reach an agreement will depend on your situation.

If you agree at the first meeting

Your lawyers will write down what’s been agreed in a document. The document isn’t legally binding but both you and the other parent will need to sign it.

If you want to make the document legally binding you can ask your lawyers to draft a consent order. This isn’t usually necessary but ask your lawyer for advice.

If there’s no agreement at the first meeting

You and the other parent must meet with your lawyers to discuss the unresolved issues. A date is then set for a second meeting.

If there’s still no agreement

If it looks like you won’t be able to reach an agreement, you and the other parent may need to consider going to court.

Collaborative law in practice

Collaborative law resources

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