Below are some of the questions that collaborative professionals are commonly asked.
What is the ACP?
The Association of Collaborative Practitioners (ACP) consists of specifically trained professionals such as: family consultants, lawyers, child specialists and financial specialists.
What is Collaborative Practice?
Collaborative Practice is a multidisciplinary dispute resolution process that offers significant benefits in appropriate cases. It is a voluntary process in which participants resolve the issues between them in the breakdown of their relationship without resorting to litigation. The Association of Collaborative Practitioners consists of specifically trained professionals such as: lawyers, family consultants, child specialists and financial specialists. The aim of collaborative practice is to find a solution through a mediation type process of negotiation and problem solving rather than both sides fighting it out in the courtroom.
How is Collaborative Practice Different?
It is a proven process that works. In the field of Family Law, this collaborative process can be far less stressful. The parties involved are each represented 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?
One of the parties involved in the breakdown of their relationship makes contact with any one of our members (the names are listed on this website). That practitioner will set up a consultation with that person to establish the nature of the dispute, and to see if it is a suitable case for collaborative practice.
If it is then the other party to the dispute will be asked if they are also agreeable to proceeding collaboratively. If so they must choose their own collaborative practitioners.
The chosen practitioners will work together to put the rest of team in place. The team will consist of two trained lawyers – one for each party – who have specialised training in Divorce or Separation skills and one or two family consultant to help with the emotional relationship and parenting issues.
A child specialist and financial professional may be jointly engaged to provide unbiased information and advice, as needed. The team approach provides the benefit of specifically trained professionals with different skills. All professionals must be collaboratively trained and the parties sign a 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.
Financial disclosure is an important part of the process. Depending on the complexity of the dispute and the willingness of all parties to commit fully to the process an agreement can usually be achieved, on average, within 5 to 8 collaborative sessions.
The two collaborative lawyers then 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 Court to be made into Court Orders(ie Divorce Decree, Judicial Separation, Pension adjustment Orders etc).
Will Collaborative Practice Work for my Situation?
In order to engage in the Collaborative Process it requires an amount of emotional maturity, openness and a willingness to find a joint solution. Your collaborative practitioner will advise whether your individual case is suitable for the process.
How Much Will it Cost?
This is the most common question we are asked and all we can say is that 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 is spent by practitioners outside of the collaborative sessions, depends on the complexity of the issues but on average somewhere between two and four hours.
There are no open-ended court costs or barristers’ fees.
Aside from the financial cost litigation can be traumatic and have a heavy emotional cost. The different skill sets brought to the collaborative process by the interdisciplinary team, provides supports that are not available in the traditional Court process.
Collaborative practitioners will agree an hourly rate in advance. You therefore will be able to control your own costs by dictating how much time you spend with each practitioner in order to find a solution. The costs are more transparent and controllable in these circumstances than in the traditional adversarial court application for separation or divorce.
How Long Does it Take?
The participants are in control of the process. The process is flexible and can expand or contract to meet your needs. In general, it takes between five to eight meetings ( but may take less or more depending on your circumstances) to resolve all the issues that can be encountered in a separation or divorce. These meetings can be spaced with the appropriate intervals to allow participants to gather information or can follow on very quickly depending on the particular needs of the participant. Be assured that the time you need to source information and work through the process will be accommodated. Each person prepares for the meeting in advance, whether through meeting their family consultant or their lawyers as is required.
Once issues are agreed, the collaborative lawyers then draft a binding Agreement, or if appropriate, Terms of Consent which can be ruled by the Court.
What if the Process is not Successful?
The success rate for Collaborative practice is very high. However, if either of the participants decides to discontinue the process, or it is not possible to continue for other reasons, both lawyers must withdraw from the process and both participants can then instruct new lawyers to engage in the usual litigation process on their behalf.
Litigation differs very significantly from Collaborative Practice. Everyone in the Collaborative Process must be open, honest and must make a full exchange of information and neither party takes advantage of the miscalculations or mistakes of the other. Both parties try to protect their children from the negative effects of their dispute. Parties make a genuine effort to meet the legitimate needs of the other and of their children in family disputes as opposed to tactical positioning which is usually backed by threats of litigation. The process is based on interest based bargaining rather than the positional posturing characteristic of the litigation route to separation and divorce.
When is Court Necessary in a Collaborative Process?
- If you require a divorce (as opposed to a legal separation) you can agree the terms of the divorce in the collaborative process and then it is the court that grants the Decree of Divorce at the end of the process.
- If you wish to divide a pension between you (either in a divorce or a legal separation) you will require a pension adjustment order from the court directing the trustees of the pension to implement your wishes.