What is Collaborative Family Law?
Collaborative Family Law allows separating couples to work with their lawyers to achieve a settlement outside court. Couples can use this voluntary process to reach a settlement that will best meet the specific needs of each party. Collaborative Law binds each partner to entering a process which commits them to reaching agreement without litigation.
The concept of Collaborative Law as an alternative means of dispute resolution originated in the United States. Since 2004, it has been successfully practised in Ireland.
How Does Collaborative Family Law Work?
When a relationship breaks down, it’s a difficult, stressful and emotional time for everyone involved. Adding a lengthy period of litigation and court appearances can add to this stress. By avoiding court, Collaborative Law allows couples to reach agreement in an amicable, reasoned and creative way.
The cornerstone of Collaborative Law is ‘Good Faith Negotiation’. This is based upon openness, mutual trust and full disclosure of all financial matters. The process works to reach agreement with balanced compromise, through respect for differing opinions. The parties make a commitment that they will not resort to the Courts. The exception to this is where an Order is necessary to implement financial terms which have been agreed. The parties remain in control.
Each partner retains separate solicitors who are trained in Collaborative Law. The role of the solicitor is to help the parties work through the areas of conflict. All negotiations take place through a number of four-way settlement meetings. These meetings are attended by both Solicitors and their clients. Sometimes other family professionals may also be involved. There can be a range of complex emotional, financial and child welfare issues to deal with. This will determine the number of meetings which take place.
The primary benefit of this process is that the separating couple, with professional assistance, reach solutions that suit them. This can be in marked contrast to the litigation route, where the judicial process will ultimately impose solutions upon them.
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