Collaborative Family Law Process Negotiated Settlement

Collaborative family law is a new approach in Ireland to negotiating and settling the issues arising from separation or divorce. Here clients are offered the option of separating or divorcing in a less adversarial, more solution-oriented process.

In Collaborative Family Law in Ireland, negotiations take place between with the husband and wife and their respective solicitors in four way settlement meetings working together to effect a resolution of all family law issues. This model differs from court based family law litigation in that the husband and wife make the decisions on the final result.

The aim of collaborative law is that an amicable solution is sought between both parties thus minimizing the contentious issues, and reducing the legal expense and court time.

Our role is to ensure that the process is a fair one, that the negotiations are conducted in a non contentious environment and that full financial disclosure has been made by both parties and that any additional expert opinion that is required in relation to financial issues can be agreed and shared between the parties.

Once the issues have been settled and both clients have reached agreement as to the terms of the divorce/separation or other agreement reached, then our family law solicitors prepare and process all the papers required to obtain a Court Order on consent.

In the event that the collaborative law process fails because of perhaps a lack of trust or because the parties are unable to reach agreement neither Solicitor can continue to act for their client in any future contentious litigation between the parties. This is enshrined in the collaborative law process signed by the parties and their respective solicitors.

Collaborative law is not suited to all parties who are involved in a family dispute. Generally, a degree of trust is necessary and the parties must have a reasonably amicable relationship. Where the collaborative law process is not suitable, a structured negotiation may be sought.

Structured Negotiation

The traditional method used to negotiate Family Law Disputes in Ireland is by way of negotiation between the parties resulting in a Separation Agreement or when Proceedings are issued negotiation again between the parties and their Solicitors resulting in a settlement of the case and that settlement been made an order of the courts.

The collaborative family law process may not always be suitable for all clients and other models of alternative dispute resolution may be more suitable for particular cases. One of the criticisms made of the family law system is that there is no system or process for trying to negotiate solutions to problems other than in the context of court proceedings. At Hanlon Family Law Solicitors we recognise this and we offer structured negotiations as an option for our clients.

What the structured negotiation process seeks to do is to establish ground rules for negotiation to enable parties to be clear about what they can expect from the process and also what is expected of them. It differs from the collaborative family law process in that the lawyer does not make a commitment not to go court on behalf of the client and also the four way meetings that are an intrinsic part of the collaborative process are an optional part of the structured negotiation process.

Structured negotiation is very similar to the collaborative law model without the need to agree to discharge our services to our client in the event that negotiations break down and we have to resort to litigation.