An introduction to collaborative law in divorce

10th March 2015 by

When a marriage or civil partnership irretrievably breaks down one of the most daunting prospects is likely to be the thought of having to go to court to settle issues relating to children and family finances. The adversarial nature of traditional divorce litigation can be distressing, and often divisive, and since the mid 1990s many family law lawyers and their clients have sought an alternative to court based proceedings. The introduction of collaborative law in divorce has presented an option which can provide extremely satisfactory divorce outcomes without the need to go to court.

The collaborative divorce

Collaborative practice has established a method for all parties involved in divorce or dissolution to work together so as to avoid confrontation and dispute; mutually agreeing all terms for the settlement of a divorce without the need for court appearances.

At the outset of the divorce the respective collaborative lawyers and their clients will meet to sign a Participation Agreement. This is a formal contract recognising that all parties to the divorce are committed to working together to settle matters as amicably as possible. This will be achieved through face-to-face meetings, involving both the lawyers and their clients, for the discussion of objectives, and by the promise of full and frank disclosure of all relevant information.

A divorce under collaborative law is progressed solely through these meetings, the purpose of which is to create a list of action points for negotiation which will form the basis for the divorce agreement. Letter writing and telephone meetings between lawyers are therefore negated as all issues are dealt with openly at the meetings.

These open negotiations will ultimately allow the divorce solicitors to draw up an agreed divorce document which will be submitted to the family law court for approval.

Growth of collaborative law in England and Wales

Collaborative practice has been welcomed by both the judiciary and Resolution, the family lawyers association, and has been actively endorsed by various highly ranked members of the Family Division.

In October 2008, the Hon. Mr Justice Coleridge, a High Court Judge for the Family Division, went on record in the national press saying that divorce agreements agreed collaboratively should be fast tracked through the courts. He added that “every conceivable encouragement should be given to parties to negotiate by this method”.

A year later, in October 2009, the then newly appointed Supreme Court Justice, Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore, addressed London family lawyers and became the first member of the Supreme Court to support the use of collaborative law in divorce, also making calls for it to be extended to other areas of law.

Healys divorce lawyers in London and Brighton, and collaborative law

Healys’ specialist collaborative family lawyers in London and Brighton are dedicated to resolving divorce and civil partnership dissolution disputes with respect, sensitivity and understanding, whilst adhering to the requisite provisions of collaborative divorce.

We approach all family issues with an amicable, constructive and conciliatory view, yet strive to ensure that our clients’ interests and those of their children come first.

The family law team at Healys are all members of Resolution and count among them a number of members of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel.

If you wish to discuss the prospect of conducting a collaborative law divorce or civil partnership dissolution, please call Catherine Taylor on 01273 669 124 or e-mail on