Collaborative law is a transparent process in which issues arising on a couple's separation such as arrangements for their children and finances are dealt with in four way meetings involving the couple and their respective lawyers. The disclosure of financial information and negotiations take place in these meetings. Other professionals such as accountants, IFA's and child consultants are sometimes called on to assist.
What is unique is that the couple and their lawyers sign a participation agreement the effect of which is that those lawyers cannot act for their clients in Court proceedings if agreement is not reached. The sole exceptions are to deal with a divorce and an application for an order to be made by consent reflecting any agreement reached.
This gives an impetus in terms of costs outlaid and the relationship of trust developed with their lawyers to work towards an agreed outcome. The client/lawyer relationship remains as in the "traditional" legal process.
Only lawyers trained in the collaborative process can deal with cases collaboratively. Collaborative lawyers belong to regional pods. If a couple wishes to deal with their matter this way, they both need to instruct a collaborative lawyer.