Collaborative Law

Collaborative Law Practice is a new option for separating or divorcing couples to resolve disputes respectfully and fairly — without going to court. In this section we set out information in relation to Collaborative Law. Collaborative Practice is available in Cork and throughout Ireland.

The most commonly asked questions include:

What is Collaborative Law Practice?

Collaborative Practice is a new option for separating or divorcing couples to resolve disputes respectfully and fairly — without going to court. The goal of Collaborative Practice is to help divorcing and separating couples to focus on their most important goals, especially children, throughout the divorce/separation process and to lay the foundation for a healthier relationship after the divorce. The end result is a more efficient, targeted and productive way to resolve Family Law disputes.

What distinguishes Collaborative Practice from other methods of divorce?

Collaborative Practice promotes respect and keeps spouses in control of the process, not judges. It addresses each couple’s unique concerns, as opposed to court-based litigation, in which the general rule of law is applied to all cases. The heart of Collaborative Practice is to offer you and your spouse or partner the support, protection, and guidance of your own lawyers without the threat of going to court. Additionally, Collaborative Practice allows you the benefit of child and financial specialists and other professionals all working together on your team. Because clients agree not to go to court, the process is more open and less adversarial. Communication throughout the process is enhanced and this can lay the foundation for a healthier relationship after the separation/divorce.

What is the biggest difference between Collaborative Practice and litigation?

In Collaborative, you and your spouse agree not to go to court. This gives you and your spouse control of the process and outcome versus litigation, where a judge makes the final decision.

Instead of the win-lose court setting, the entire collaborative team (which will include both spouse’s Solicitors, plus if appropriate a neutral financial expert, a child specialist or other specialists you and your spouse believe would be helpful) ensures that both spouses work with each other, not against each other, towards mutually beneficial solutions for critical issues.

One barrier in litigation is a lack of effective communication between spouses. In the collaborative process, spouses learn a framework for effectively communicating their concerns and goals.

What is the biggest difference between Collaborative Practice and mediation?

Both you and your spouse are represented and advised by your Solicitor throughout the entire process which includes meetings with your spouse and their Solicitor. The entire collaborative law team is there to help facilitate communication between the spouses, working towards the best possible solution for all and making sure all issues are addressed.

The continual involvement of the entire team, including both parties’ solicitors, means that you will not find that one party feels pressured into an agreement at a meeting only to change their minds when later discussing matters with their solicitor.

What are the benefits of Collaborative Practice?

  • Better for children – Gives children a voice in the process, alleviating the potential of future trauma that sometimes persists for generations.
  • Private – Keeps problems and assets private.
  • Less stressful – Improves communication between parties
  • Keeps control of process with the spouses and Improves long-term communications.
  • Focus on the future & Saves time – The process is more efficient, productive and targeted because of the unique structure of the collaborative team.

How does it work?

The Collaborative Law process utilises specialists who concentrate their areas of expertise for the benefit of the entire team to address children’s needs and the emotional and financial aspects of divorce. This means that there is no time (and therefore money) wasted in trying to knock the other party’s position and all the effort is put into reaching solutions that will work for all parties.

The process itself creates a safe environment for both parties without the threat of court. Taking the threat of court out of the equation means that the parties can no longer just sit back and say, “if you don’t like it we will see what the judge has to say”. This means that all parties including the solicitors are challenged to view matters in a new light in order to maintain involvement.

With Collaborative Law the solicitors have a stake in ensuring that a good result is obtained for all parties within the Collaborative process as if the process breaks down the solicitors’ involvement is finished.Collaborative Law provides a structure for communication that considers each person’s needs and then focuses on how to meet those needs from what may be limited resources. Sharing of information within the process allows good decisions to be made quicker and with reduced costs when compared to contested litigation.

The Collaborative approach is creative and respectful and this helps clients reach a mutually agreeable settlement while maintaining civil relations in what can otherwise be a very traumatic period.

Who is Collaborative Practice for?

  • People going through a divorce who want a civilized, respectful resolution of the issues and are willing to focus on solutions rather than on blame or revenge.
  • People who want to maintain a productive working relationship with their (ex) spouses.
  • People who will be co-parenting and want to keep their children’s interests at the forefront, i.e. protecting children from the negative impact associated with bitter litigation.
  • People who want to control decision-making over child-rearing and/or financial
    arrangements rather that turning it over to a stranger (judge).
  • People who place as much or more value on the relationship that will exist in the
    restructured family as on obtaining maximum resources.
  • People who value privacy.
Ken is a trained Collaborative Family Lawyer and is pleased to be able to offer his clients what he and his Collaborative Family Law colleagues call a revolutionary way to approach family conflict.
Ken is a member of the Irish Association of Collaboratice Practioners and Resolve – the Cork Collaborative Family Law Group all of which provide information for and promotes the use of Collaborative Practice in Family Law issues.