What is Collaborative Law?

Often traditional Court applications can be inappropriate for family law cases and due to the formalities, the timeframe and the lack of direct input by the clients, the process can sometimes make the experience of separating more difficult and painful than it already is for the couple and their children.

Collaborative Law is a new way for separating couples to work together to reach agreement on all aspects of their separation and family law matters without going to Court.


The Collaborative process recognises that both spouses know their family’s needs better than anyone.


It allows for both spouses to commit to working together, openly and respectfully, in a dignified manner, to reach an agreement which they will construct for themselves and which is acceptable to both spouses.


The Collaborative process gives both parties the opportunity to work in a safe environment with the guidance of their solicitors in order to develop options for the division of their assets, financial planning and parenting into the future.


Every family is different. Where a couple has children and wishes for both parents to play a role in co-parenting the children after the separation, the Collaborative process can be the ideal opportunity for the parties to work together to reach an agreement which will be uniquely tailored to their family and which will inevitably be in the best interests of the children. The parties can avoid the difficulties which sometimes arise when they have no direct communication with each other, sending messages and expressing their positions through their legal representatives and ultimately giving up control of planning for their future by leaving a judge decide what should happen.


It allows for the parties to ensure that the interests of their children are at the centre of the separation process at all times and can avoid the chance of major long-term decisions affecting children being made at the last minute or by a judge who cannot possibly know what is best for the children as well as their parents do.


In relation to financial arrangements regarding division of assets and planning for the future, the Collaborative process enables both spouses to have the maximum input into discussions and the agreement that is reached concerning their finances. It completely removes the risk factor associated with submitting a dispute to the Court for a decision. Both parties can express and discuss their interests and needs so as to reach an agreement that is acceptable to them both.


Practically, the Collaborative process requires both spouses to take part in a series of four-way meetings at which they are both present together with their respective solicitors. Usually, between four and eight meetings will be required.


At the outset of the process, the parties expressly agree to be open and honest with each other and to provide all information relevant to the separation.


The parties may choose to consult with other collaboratively trained professionals such as accountants, child specialists and mental health practitioners during the process.


Through meetings with each other, their legal representatives and any other professionals that they may wish to consult with during the process, the parties work to reach an agreement which reflects their interests and which they believe will be a durable and long-lasting agreement for their separation now and in the future.


Once the Agreement is reached, the parties can then request the Court to grant Orders for Judicial Separation or Divorce and any ancillary or additional Orders as they may agree.


Collaborative Law is an innovative method of giving separating couples control over how they separate and uniquely enables them to make the maximum contribution to every aspect of their Agreement so that they can retain civility and dignity long after they separate.


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If you, or someone you know is going through a separation and would like to discuss collaborative law or family law in general, please contact Lillian on 021-4274711 or email to lillian@lillianosullivan.com



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