Mediation and Family Dispute Resolution Frequently asked questions

For whom is collaborative law a good idea?Many family law cases will be suitable for resolution in this way. Although you are separating, if you have children you will still be parents following separation and need to maintain communication. In circumstances where there are no children, if it is important to you to resolve differences respectfully and to remain on good terms if possible, then the Collaborative process may be a good choice for you.

Some family lawyers in the UK estimate that around 80% of their cases are being resolved through collaboration. Answer our questionnaire and then contact us to discuss the results.

Can a party quit during the collaborative process?In the collaborative process the parties and their lawyers sign a contract not to go to Court. This contract binds the lawyers, not the clients. If a party choses to go to Court after the process has commenced, both of the lawyers will have to withdraw, and each party find a new lawyer.

The contract that the parties and lawyers sign at the outset of a Collaboration ensures that the lawyers do their utmost to help the parties find a mutually agreeable resolution, and helps remind the parties of their original interests and commitment to the process. When a party walks away, that means starting all over with all the cost consequences that follow having to find new lawyers.

Fortunately the collaborative process succeeds for around 95% of people, so the chances of failure are minimal.

How is the collaborative process different from mediation?During a Collaboration, all the negotiation is done with the parties present and in fact, they play an active part in it. The basic collaboration meeting will have two lawyers and two clients present. Sometimes other experts will also attend the collaboration meetings, or clients may be referred out to other professionals for assistance.

In a mediation, the mediator’s job is to facilitate the discussion between the parties, they are not there to give advice. Some but not all of the discussion will take place with everyone present, but often the mediator will also spend time with each of the parties individually.
Talk to us about whether Mediation or Collaboration are more suitable for your case.

What is the end result and how are agreements secured?In this respect the Collaborative process varies little from other options. The end result will be a legally binding and enforceable agreement between you. Interestingly there are few breakdowns of collaboratively reached agreements, possibly because the parties feel they have ownership of the agreement and have each committed to it rather than have it imposed upon them.

Is the collaborative process cheaper than other options and in particular going to court?While it cannot be stated categorically that the Collaborative process is cheaper, it often will be. Certainly all meetings will be by agreement and there will be no expensive legal time lost waiting around at Courts or multiple court appearances because the Court ran out of time to hear your case. More importantly, the parties can better control the cost because of their direct involvement in the process. In addition, most of the substantive work is done during the meetings and clients feel more in control of how their legal costs are incurred.

What happens if the collaboration reaches a stalemate?Collaborative lawyers are trained to assist you to resolve any impasse along the way. They will help you to develop other options for settlement, and may sometimes call in a Mediator to assist you to resolve the particular issue that is preventing you from reaching agreement. Remember, 95% of cases resolve successfully in the Collaborative process.

What happens if a party does not fulfil their disclosure obligations under the Collaboration Contract?The Collaborative process is a very transparent one and it requires each party to make full financial disclosure to the other. In a situation where it is clear that a party is hiding or failing to disclose information, and if this could not be resolved, that party’s lawyer would have to withdraw and the process would fail. Each party would need to find a new lawyer to proceed.