What is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative Law is an alternative family law dispute resolution service. It’s aims is to involve the couples who are separating/divorcing to actively engage in the process of resolving their disputes. With this aim in mind, the goal is to ensure that we as Solicitors help the couple end their marriage respectfully and honourably and thereby preserving family relationships and assets at the same time. Both Solicitors and clients must “buy into the process”. This is achieved by the parties signing a Participation Agreement.
What is the Participation Agreement?
The participation Agreement agrees that neither of the parties will resort to court to resolve their disputes. Furthermore, if either party decides to issue court proceedings after signing the participation agreement, then the whole Collaborative Law process must come to an end and the solicitors who acted for the parties during the Collaborative Law process must remove themselves (disqualification theory) from the case and the parties must engage new solicitors – non CFL solicitors. The disqualification theory ensures that all parties including the CFL solicitors have a vested interest in ensuring that the Collaborative Law process works and that a resolution of the outstanding disputes are agreed. However one exception to the foregoing rule is when the family law issues have been resolved between the parties and the parties require a court order for example a Divorce Decree (which can only be granted by the court) then the parties can apply to court for same without infringing on the Participation Agreement.
How does Collaborative Law process work?
On signing of the Participation Agreement, both parties must reveal the true position of their financial position by vouched affidavit of means. In many cases, an agreed valuer is appointed to act on behalf of both parties and an agreed accountant to give advice of how this the marriage issues can be resolved in an accountancy/ tax efficient manner. These professionals retain a neutral role in the process and are neither act for one or the other parties. Once the true financial position is clear, a series of meetings are organised to agree the true financial position and to work towards an agreed resolution.
What is the role of the Solicitor in CFL?
At all times the CFL practitioner retains the professional role as legal advisor to their clients are we are bound by the ordinary rules pertaining to professional conduct. The only difference is that we negotiate collaboratively as opposed to adversely. This process works well for those parties who want to retain an element of amicability towards each other and especially if there is young children involved in the marriage breakdown.
Our experience in this area.
Both Finola Freehill and Gus Cullen of this office are trained Collaborative lawyers and have extensive experience in this new and growing area of alternative family law dispute resolution. If you have any queries in regard to the foregoing please do not hesitate to contact Finola Freehill or Gus Cullen.
Summary by Finola Freehill
18 November 2008