Meetings are held by way of a "round table meeting" and will involve the disclosure of any appropriate information to facilitate negotiations with the aim of reaching a satisfactory conclusion for both parties. You maintain control of the process throughout these meetings and your lawyer is there to offer advice as required and as the case progresses.
In the event that these negotiations deteriorate and break down, it is worth noting that your collaborative lawyer is not permitted to represent you in any subsequent court proceedings. You would need to seek alternative representation if this was the case.
Differences between Collaborative Law and Mediation
Whilst Mediation and Collaborative Law both exist for the purpose of achieving a divorce or separation amicably away from court, they differ greatly in many aspects. Mediation sees the parties meeting in a controlled environment with a neutral person known as a mediator who will then assist the parties in trying to resolve their issues in a face to face meeting. A mediator will always recommend that both parties seek their own independent legal advice. Collaborative Law can involve several round table meetings where both parties are present and each represented by their lawyer. Advice is given to both parties throughout the process and any agreements that are made can be progressed by your lawyer whether they require court approval or simply written formalisation.
Collaborative Lawyer – Barbro Zeineh
Barbro has been practicing family law for more years than she would like to remember. She is wholly dedicated to dealing with matters in a non-confrontational way and learnt early on that litigation in relation to family issues does not work and if anything actually heightens the temperature and tension between the parties, not to mention the cost implications.
One approach to settling relationship issues without litigation is via collaborative law. The parties each instruct a collaboratively trained lawyer with the aim being to agree not to litigate in relation to any issues surrounding the parties’ relationship, be it children or finances and to sign a Participation Agreement to this effect. There then follows a series of four-way meetings to resolve the issues with all four participants having an input (both parties and both lawyers).
“The parties themselves are in the driving seat with the lawyers there to help towards an amicable settlement. In my experience a couple could come up with an unusual arrangement, which in conventional divorce proceedings would not work, but in collaborative law it will. Rather than having two camps this process is about all four participants working together to achieve the best for the couple. The satisfaction is enormous.”