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10 Questions To Consider When Deciding If The Collaborative Law Process May Be Right For You And Your Former Partner

Posted on May 7, 2014

1. Has the relationship totally broken down? If it has not you may want to consider couple counselling with an organisation like Relate to see if any communication difficulties or other matters that have arisen can be resolved without ending the relationship.

2. Has an agreement been made as to how the finances can be divided and how the childcare arrangements will work e.g. during the week, weekends and over the holidays?

3. Would you prefer to decide what is going to happen to the family yourself or would you prefer for the Judge to make the decision for you? In my experience the separating couple knows what works for them. A judge will be provided with your background situation but what is ordered may not suit either of you.

4. How quickly do you want to resolve things between you? A court hearing can take around 6-8 weeks to get listed while Collaborative Law can work at a much quicker pace.

5. Do you want to keep the discussions about the separation private?

6. Do you want the views of the children to play a part in the discussions. Some Collaborative professionals are training to work with children. They need to complete direct consultation with children training, had a CRB check and obtain the written consent of both parents. If you go down the Court route it may be a Cafcass officer is appointed to work on the case and there can be several meetings which may not suit everyone’s schedule and it can take several weeks to receive the Cafcass report.

7. There are the legal issues to resolve but also one should not forget the emotional impact the separation can have. Do you want to address the emotional issues too? Collaborative practitioners can work with Family Consultants who can meet you before and take part during the joint meetings to ensure that any hopes and concerns are kept at the forefront of discussions while the Collaborative Solicitors look to aid you with the legal issues.

8. If an agreement is reached would you like to call on the opinion of a financial expert or barrister? This is possible in the collaborative process. It may be one client does not have the same financial or legal understanding as the other client and wants to meet a financial expert or barrister to ensure they are up to speed with what has been agreed and also discuss financial projections or legal implications for the future to check that what has been agreed will work in the long term.

9. Do you want to resolve everything out of court? This is possible with Collaborative Law. It is one of the main principles of this process that you will not make an application to court and if you do then your solicitor would need to stop acting for you. Court can encourage positional stances which may not achieve a good outcome for everyone.

10. Do you want to reality check what has been agreed with your former partner and ensure that it meets the needs of everyone? With children matters this can be important. Even though it may be agreed to separate and live in different households you are still going to need to liaise with each other for future childcare arrangements. Making sure what has been agreed will work can only aid building communication between you which is best for your child.

The above should give you an indication if Collaborative Law may work and be the right process to follow for you and your former partner if you decide to separate. If you are unsure you can always speak to a Collaboratively trained Family Solicitor who can provide more details about how Collaborative Law works in practice.

Austin Chessell and Massy Ellesmere are Family Mediators at FAMIA (

Austin Chessell is also a Collaborative Family Solicitor at Feltons Solicitors.


Phone: 07920 445832

Twitter: @FamilyLawLondon

» Filed Under Changes through divorce and seperation, Children in Divorce, Christmas Tips, Contact Matters, Dealing with Financial changes, Dealing With Step Families, Divorce, Divorce Tips, Effect of divorce on children, Family Mediation, Helping children through divorce & seperation, Legal Updates, Mother's day tips for separated Mums and Dads, Relationship, Surviving Divorce, Therapy, Tips on dealing with children, Tips on dealing with separation and Divorce, Tips on parenting, Tools helping you through seperation / divorce


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