Collaborative law accreditation not limited just to solicitors

As anybody who has had a good look at this website will know, as experienced divorce and family law solicitors, we are really big fans of both family mediation and collaborative law as dignified and practical ways of solving relationship breakdown problems. But you might not realise that when it comes to the collaborative law, it’s not just your solicitor who can be trained and accredited in the collaborative law process. So what other professions can receive collaborative law accreditation?

Barristers. There are a small number of specialist family barristers who have undergone the training. However, unless things change, there may be only be limited need for collaborative law trained barristers – after all, the whole point of the collaborative law process is to avoid going to court in the first place, and unless your case is exceptional and perhaps involves a very, very sizeable amount of money, a collaborative law trained solicitor is probably all you need to deal with running your case and negotiating an agreed settlement in face-to-face meetings

Independent financial advisers. Apart from solicitors, IFA’s are probably the most commonly accredited collaborative law professional – they are often invaluable when it comes to helping create a successful package for both partners to move on and often set up two individual households, where family monies were only supporting one previously

Accountants – accountants are often a very important part of the divorce process, when it comes to finances – especially if there is a business involved. A very small number of accountants have been accredited and trained in Collaborative Law.

Collaborative Lawyers also work with other professionals who, though not formally trained and accredited in collaborative law, share the same collaborative law ethos– including family relationship consultants and coaches.

The process of Family Mediation

Family Mediation is a way of resolving relationship disagreements without involving the courts. The Family Mediation Database will provide details of a Mediator near to where you live or work and you should check that they are recognised by the Family Mediation Council. Community Legal Advice can also provide you with general advice, if your case may be suitable for Mediation and if you are eligible for any financial assistance.

The Mediator will contact your partner to find out if they are willing to try mediation and, if they are, you can then attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) either with your partner or alone, to establish whether or not Mediation is suitable for both of you. A Family Mediator is trained to help you reach an agreement without bias in a safe and neutral environment in which you and your family members explain your concerns and needs to each other. They will also:

• Check eligibility for free publicly-funded Mediation (formerly Legal Aid). If you are not eligible you will have to pay for each session; as a guideline, Legal Aid pays £87 plus VAT per person or £130 plus VAT where both partners are present

• Schedule further meetings at which you may work on communication issues, renew arrangements for children, exchange financial information and consider options

• Suggest other help, such as financial advice or support for your children

If you are applying for a Court Order about finances, money, property, possessions and arrangements for any children from the relationship however, the Court will require you to have attended an MIAM, with the following exceptions:

• Your Mediator submits form FM1 indicating that one of you was not willing to attend an MIAM

• Your Mediator has communicated that the case is not suitable for Mediation within the past four months

• either of you has made an allegation of domestic violence against the other within the past 12 months and police investigations or civil proceedings were started

• your dispute is about money and either of you is bankrupt

• you do not know the whereabouts of your partner

• you want to apply for a Court Order but for specific reasons do not intend to give your partner any notice

• the court application is urgent because somebody’s life or physical safety is at risk or a child is at risk of significant harm

• the Order is about a child who is already involved with social services because of concerns over their protection

• you have contacted three Mediators within 15 miles of your home and are unable to get an appointment with any of them within 15 working days

After you have both received legal advice and are happy with the proposals, your solicitors will convert the summary into a legally binding document and carry out any necessary implementation.

If you are considering or are ready to seek Family Mediation, contact our specialist Family Law team who can provide you with expert legal advice – 2  of them are jointly qualified and accredited lawyers/Family Mediators.