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Do I have to go to court to sort out our financial and children arrangements or are there other options which are cheaper and better ?

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You do not have to go to Court and there are other options which we can discuss with you. One option is the collaborative approach.

Under the collaborative law process, each of you will appoint your own collaboratively trained lawyer. At Emery Johnson Astills, Emma Mitchell, a partner at the firm trained as a collaborative lawyer over 10 years ago  and has had  positive outcomes for all clients who have engaged in this process which is 100% client focused. The aim of the collaborative process is to allow you, Emma, your partner and their lawyer to meet together to work things out and discuss matters through face to face.  There is limited use of correspondence and the emphasis is on verbal communication .You have Emma by your side throughout the process and your partner will have their lawyer so you both have support and the benefit of legal advice.

You, Emma, your partner and their lawyer all sign an agreement that commits you all to trying to resolve the issues following the breakdown of the relationship without going to court. In the very unlikely and unusual event that the collaborative process breaks down then both lawyers are precluded from acting further.  This is beneficial for you as you have the full assurance and confidence that everyone has a vested interest in finding a resolution by agreement which is acceptable to all the parties, rather than through court proceedings.

How does the collaborative law process work?

You would first meet with Emma so she can explain more about the process and what to expect in the collaborative meetings. She will discuss what it is you wish to achieve, in what timescales and how many meetings may be necessary.

Emma and your partner’s lawyer will speak to each other either face to face or over the phone in order to plan for your first meeting. They will also consider if any other professionals or reports are required. For example you may need a financial advisor or a property valuation report. You will then speak with Emma again and she will explain to you whether she feels that other professionals need to be involved and the extent of their involvement.

At the first collaborative meeting, Emma and your partner’s lawyer explain the philosophy of the collaborative process and ensure that you are both committed to working collaboratively to a solution which is best for your family.

The collaborative process is not dictated by the lawyers. You as the client decide what is important to you to discuss and resolve and the lawyer’s work together to have these discussions with you and to try and reach a solution which is agreeable to you both. This gives you the freedom to “bring to the table” matters which a court or other lawyers may not perhaps be interested in or have time to hear. Sometimes couples separate and cannot agree arrangements say for the family dog(s). No Court is going to be interested in these issues which are considered periphery, however they are important issues and arrangements can be made which might mean for example that the dogs ferry with the children so to speak. Collaborative lawyers and their clients can be creative whereas non collaborative lawyers are not always.

How long does the collaborative process take?

One of the benefits of the collaborative process is that it’s not driven by a timetable imposed by the court. So to a large extent the process can be built around your family’s individual timetable and priorities, as these meetings follow agendas set by you and your partner. It is more amicable and a family focused way to deal with separation.

Often only a couple of meetings are needed, in other cases four or five. Court can often take up to 18 months. Provided information can be obtained quickly and subject to your availability to meet, most collaborative cases are agreed within a few months. Once an agreement is reached, Emma and your partner’s lawyer will put it into effect, obtaining a court order where needed. Interestingly the judges are thrilled when cases have been settled through the collaborative process and frequently fast track them through the approval process.

What are the benefits of the collaborative process?

It is a well-known fact that separation can often be full of conflict and the court process and expense adds only more stress to an already difficult situation. The aim of the collaborative process is to empower you  to try to reach agreements without these being decided by a third party ie judge or lawyer who knows nothing about your family and is simply looking at your situation obliquely. It also allows the meetings to take place at your convenience and therefore you set your own timetable and agenda as to what is important to you.

At Emery Johnson Astills, the family team do their upmost to reach settlements outside the Court process. If you are considering collaborative law or would like more information on this, please contact the family team at Emery Johnson Astills on 0116 255 4855 for more information or Emma Mitchell directly at ecm@johnsonastills.com. More details can also be accessed through Resolution at www.resolution.org.uk