What is Collaborative Practice?
- It is different
- It is multi-disciplinary including family consultants, lawyers, child specialists, and financial experts
- It tries to resolve disputes through problem solving
- It is designed to keep you out of court
- It treats you with respect
- It is about cooperation, not confrontation
- It addresses needs of all family members
- It is future focused
Is Collaborative Practice the Right Choice?
The concept of Collaborative Practice is a new idea for most people in Ireland, though it is well established in other countries. It is a proven process that works and the collaborative process can be far less stressful. The parties involved are each represented by lawyers, but the method of resolving matters is less aggressive and confrontational than the traditional legal approach. The focus is put on finding solutions, rather than gaining advantage. It involves treating each other respectfully and trying to satisfy the interests of all family members, rather than trying to gain individual advantage. It is child centred.
The process can reduce unnecessary and destructive conflict, so that outcomes for family members, and children, are more positive. You have much more control over the process, the pace, and the outcome, and THAT is very different from Court litigation.
How Does the Process Work?
You or your spouse/partner contacts any one of our members (the names are listed on this website). The initial contact can be made with any one of our practitioners to start – ie legal practitioner(lawyer) or a family consultant or a financial practitioner. If the initial contact is made with a collaboratively trained lawyer or family consultant, then that practitioner will set up a consultation with you to establish whether collaborative practice is suitable for your case. If the initial contact is with one of the financial practitioners, they will refer you to a collaboratively trained lawyer or family consultant for that initial consultation.
If your case is suitable for the Collaborative Process, then the other spouse or partner to the dispute will be asked if they are also agreeable to proceeding collaboratively. If they are agreeable, they will choose their own collaborative practitioners.
The chosen practitioners will work together to put the rest of team in place. The team will consist of a minimum of two lawyers – one for each person – who have specialised training in Divorce or Separation skills and are collaboratively trained. The process will include one or two family consultants to support the emotional relationship and parenting issues.
A child specialist or a financial professional may be jointly engaged to provide unbiased information and advice, if needed.
This team approach provides the benefit of specifically trained professionals with different skills. All professionals must be collaboratively trained, and everyone signs the Collaborative Participation Agreement agreeing to use good faith efforts in their negotiations to reach a mutually acceptable settlement.
The Participation Agreement contains a Court disqualification clause which prevents the collaborative lawyers from representing you or your partner in any contested litigation. This motivates all the participants in the process to work hard at reaching agreement in the collaborative process.
Full financial disclosure is an essential part of the process. This is achieved by the exchange of a sworn document called an affidavit of means which sets out all assets, liabilities, income, outgoings and pensions.
The two collaborative lawyers draft the legal documents reflecting your agreement and if necessary, (for example, in the case of Divorce and/or if there are pensions involved), submit them to the Family Law Courts to be made into Court Orders on consent as per your agreement (i.e. Divorce Decree, Judicial Separation, Pension Adjustment Orders, etc).
How Much Will It Cost?
How much will it cost? In general, it is less expensive than going down the road of a legal battle through the courts. Each of our practitioners has a standard hourly rate for their time.
How much time you spend will be unique to the individual needs of your family.
The collaborative process does not involve open-ended court costs, or barristers’ fees.
Aside from the financial cost, litigation can be acrimonious, traumatic, and have a heavy emotional cost for your family. The different skill sets brought to the collaborative process by the interdisciplinary team provides supports that are not available in the traditional Court process.
The collaborative approach addresses the needs of the whole family. Resolution is achieved through both of you meeting together at the same table, with help. It is a structured approach aimed at finding a mutually acceptable resolution.