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Working with other Collaborative Law Experts during the Collaborative Law Process

Posted on May 7, 2014

When I started working in Family Law in 2005 I would regularly go to court four to five times a week. I thought that there must be a better way to achieve family outcomes as a lot of the clients who obtained a court order were not happy with the order and wanted to return to court to appeal the decision sometimes.

I trained as a Family Mediator in 2009 and as a Collaborative Family Solicitor in 2013. The majority of the clients I act for now go through the Collaborative Law or Family Mediation process and tend to be more satisfied with these outcomes over court as they have helped to shape the decisions themselves rather than have a court decision imposed upon them.

You have to choose the right process for you but if you want an outcome that focuses on interests rather than fixed positions you may want to use Collaborative Law or Family Mediation.

Clients consult Collaborative Solicitors for legal advice and solutions to their legal problems.

Collaborative Law can also involve a range of professionals who are experts in their specialism who can be part of the four way meetings with the two clients and the two collaborative solicitors to address the issue that has been raised. Further actions or outcomes can then be discussed in subsequent four way meetings with the other professional being present to share their expertise. An order can be prepared if an agreement is then reached in the final sessions.

Involving other professionals does not have to mean costs will escalate. If the other professional can tackle the problem and solve it, it can often mean that matters can be resolved quicker and more amicably.

For instance:

• Couple Therapists: it may be the case that you are looking to make the marriage work. In the event that meetings with the couple therapist do not work then the door is always open to return to Collaborative Law.

• Family Consultants: they can work either one on one or with both clients. It may be that you want to explore how the co-parenting will work during the Collaborative process and after the separation. Family Consultants can also help explore any hopes and anxieties you may have during the Collaborative and post Collaborative process.

• Child Specialists. it is important for the voice of the child to be heard over how childcare arrangements will work. Some mediators do further training so that they can meet with the child (Direct Consultation With Children) where both parents consent to this and it can be very useful in providing details of what the children want the parents to know to help shape current and future childcare arrangements and how holiday childcare arrangements will work.

• Independent Financial Advisors. If the financial settlement is to provide a lump sum it may be useful to consult an Independent Financial Advisor to discuss investments or if the main asset is the pension to discuss how pension planning will work.

• Accountants. I have worked with accountants in the past where it has been necessary to value business assets during a divorce. The valuations can provide accurate and useful information to the clients when discussing settlement options.

Working with Collaborative professionals can be done at a timescale that works for you rather than having to follow a court timetable as Collaborative Law meetings take place outside of court.

It can take time to have to prepare a joint letter of instruction through solicitors if you are not using the Collaborative process while any instructions for the experts in Collaborative Law can be discussed in an open forum during the four-five way meetings.

If you want to know more about Collaborative Law you should speak to a trained Collaborative Family Solicitor.

Austin Chessell and Massy Ellesmere are Family Mediators who are trained to mediate with Children at FAMIA.

Austin is also a Collaborative Family Solicitor at Feltons Solicitors.


Phone: 07920 445832

Twitter: @FamilyLawLondon

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    Austin Chessell
    07920 445832
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    07518 293129