Collaborative Practice is where specially trained lawyers work together to help you both sort things out; they will never work against each other or try to win; they will not be tactical. They are obliged and really want to help you both, although you will each have your own lawyer.

The lawyers share their legal advice openly (known as waiving legal privilege). That way you know what each other’s cases are and can work out a way forward. The lawyers are contractually obliged not to go to court with you; this is a positive as it binds everyone to making it work. Mostly it is best if you and your ex go to see a family consultant who will help with the emotional fall out of the break up; it saves money overall.

They will work with you separately and together to improve communication. They often work with you to create anchor or aspiration statements which are integral to the legal process. The Anchor Statement helps focus you and the lawyers on your priorities.

Lawyers are bound to put the children first in all their dealings with each other and you. They may ask you to work with a parenting expert to create a parenting plan. There will be a series of meetings and minutes are prepared to reflect what happened and next steps.

You need to do all the same financial disclosure as in other processes but some- times it is more informal (e.g. just a list of documents needed). A financial schedule is agreed and this forms the basis of talks to work out your future finances.

The legal documents will be drafted by the lawyers working together and helping each other to get them right. Often (and it is advised that), you have a signing off meeting where the documents are explained to both of you at the same time and minor amends made where necessary. Then you and both of your lawyers sign off the documents.


It is likely that your collaborative lawyer will want to bring in others to assist from time to time, working with other experts. Their hourly rate is usually much lower and their expertise more relevant. A lawyer advises and helps with the law only. Although often family lawyers can be a great listening ear throughout the emotional turmoil, they are rarely therapists and counsellors. Go to a therapist for that; they are usually much cheaper.

If there are pensions, it goes without saying that you are very likely to need a pen- sion expert to work out a fair division of your pensions. Lawyers are not financial advisors or coaches. The lawyer ought to have links with people who are trained to help you.

Could This Work For Me?

Yes: almost all Collaborative cases are successful with high satisfaction rates. They usually end in a hug (or a virtual hug). It’s not always easy but it’s worth the effort.

No: if you or your ex can’t act in good faith or be trusted to honestly disclose all assets (trusted with finances rather than trusted in a relationship).


• Emotional well-being and the possibility of preserving the future relationship.

• Speed. it can be very quick where necessary yet conversely it can be slow if one or both of you need time to sort out the emotions.

• You are part of everything that happens.

• The two lawyers have a huge amount of experience and can really help you to achieve an all round excellent result.

• Your lawyers work very hard to work with you to create solutions that suit all of you. No one tries to win — they make it so that you both get something that works and feels fair.

• All discussions are confidential and private.


Cost. Having two lawyers and other professionals involved can be costly. Generally, the cost is akin to going halfway through the court process (up to the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing or FDR).

How Do I Prepare?

1. Do the homework set (e.g. financial disclosure) in good time for the meetings.

2. Know when you are feeling like you need extra emotional help. The process can slow down for this to happen.

What Other Non-court Options Could This Be Used With?

Child Inclusive Mediation: to speak and listen to the children to see how they are and to feed back to the collaborative team.

Early Neutral Evaluation: The lawyers give their advice openly. Sometimes they will disagree on the law as it applies in your case. Rather than spend time arguing about it, go to a neutral lawyer who will give a view of what they think a court would do.

Arbitration: You may not be able to agree on everything. An Arbitrator can be appointed to make a decision on these few issues.

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