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Collaborative Law and Family Mediation

Collaborative law and civil partnerships
We are big fans of both the collaborative law and family mediation process. For the right people, it works really well – speeding the legal process up, often keeping costs down and most importantly of all, significantly reducing the levels of upset and bitterness that often arise, compared with legal proceedings when a gay or straight relationship breaks down. We have two specially trained collaborative lawyers and a jointly trained family lawyer/mediator.


Collaborative law works in the same way for civil partnership divorce as it does marital disputes. It aims to achieve an out of court, friendly settlement between both parties facing divorce or civil partnership dissolution.


Relatively few family lawyers are qualified to practice collaborative law – they need to be specially trained and a solicitor must be specially trained and accredited to offer a collaborative law service.


There are two major benefits to using collaborative law over taking your dissolution straight to court. These are:

  • Amicable feelings are preserved between both you and your partner as court proceedings can be much more aggressive and competitive; and
  • Party autonomy is preserved. This means that you are your partner remain in control of what happens with your children and your financial affairs, rather than a judge deciding for you

The collaborative law process does involve both parties being cooperative, on board and willing to find a solution together. No matter how well trained the solicitor is, collaborative law cannot work where one party is adamant on what they want and are not willing to negotiate.


Collaborative law – what actually happens
Here is a brief insight into the collaborative law process:

  • Both parties agree together (usually in writing) that they want to use collaborative law.
  • Meetings take place between both parties whom are normally independently represented by trained collaborative lawyers.
  • The lawyers guide their respective clients by encouraging negotiation between the parties. Both parties are able to break at any time to seek private legal advice and the clients remain in control of the meeting throughout.
  • Discussions between lawyers are not encouraged – this tends to keep the costs down and helps keep the clients in control of the process.
  • Both parties are motivated to find an early solution, because if the parties can't reach an agreement, then they have to instruct new lawyers from different firms to take their case to court. It is therefore in the interests of everyone involved to reach agreement.
  • Unlike mediation, there is no third party supervising any discussions – usually the lawyers remain present throughout rather than leaving the room.


Family Mediation and civil partnerships
Mediation is less formal than collaborative law. It still however requires the cooperation of both parties and a willingness to negotiate.


Mediators are professionals, trained in all the skills needed to execute effective mediation. Few local family lawyers are qualified as lawyer/mediators and will, as a result, often have to refer your case to an external mediator. Some law firms, like ours, however do employ dual qualified lawyer/mediators


Mediation has many benefits for civil partnership disputes. Primarily it can help prevent an expensive court battle over a financial settlement post-dissolution. Secondly, it can remove much of the emotional stress involved in pushing a dissolution through court – where there is a significant higher level of conflict and formality. Mediation often allows couples to find solutions that suit them both and they leave feeling satisfied rather than hurt and aggrieved by a court process.


Family Mediation –how does it work

The following is what typically happens during mediation:

  • Your mediator arranges meet up sessions with you and your partner – usually a couple of hours long. The number of sessions needed depends on your personal circumstances.
  • Your independent lawyers are not usually present during the mediation process itself. However at any time you can take a break and seek legal advice, and at no point will you be forced to make a decision that you are not comfortable with.
  • The mediator acts as a 3rd party intermediary, listening to both parties individually. As they are entirely impartial your mediator will put forward solutions for you to consider.
  • With the help of the mediator you then try to negotiate a financial settlement until you are both happy. The mediator can formalise any agreement legally by putting it into writing. Any decisions made during mediation are not legally binding until this agreement is confirmed and signed by both parties.


It can often be beneficial to find a lawyer-mediator whom is also trained in collaborative law (as ours is). They can then advise you on which process best suits you. Lawyer-mediators will additionally understand all the legal aspects of your case, which can speed things up if there are legal questions.


Get in touch with us today
For FREE initial phone advice about how our Civil Partnership Solicitors can help you:

  • call 0800 1404544 or
  • use the contact form below:
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 Civil Partnership Lawyers – UK Lawyers specialising in Civil Partnership Dissolution nationwide
Bonallack & Bishop Solicitors (76483) authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority


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