Sandra Meakins, one of the Partners in our Farnham office, has recently reported the successful launch of the new Collaborative Family Law Group serving the Surrey/Hampshire border of which she is the current Chairperson. The launch took place in Farnham at the lovely site of Farnham Castle and was well attended by local business people in Farnham and the surrounding areas, lawyers and other professionals.
Sandra trained in 2006 as a Collaborative Lawyer. She qualified as a solicitor 25 years ago and is our matrimonial specialist based in our Farnham office. Collaborative Family Law is an alternative way of helping people resolve matters arising from the breakdown of their relationships. The aim of Collaborative practise is to achieve an amicable resolution between parties with the support of their own individual Collaborative lawyers. It means that couples work together with their lawyers at four-way meetings and resolve to negotiate a conclusion that they are happy with in a non confrontational way, without going to Court. In this way the emotional strain on the parties is reduced and it helps to protect not only the parties but the children from the harm of warring parents. The couple as well as the two lawyers sign a participation agreement in which both the lawyers and the clients confirm that they will behave in a civil manner towards each other and to act in good faith in the negotiations. There is full and proper disclosure of financial resources and the parties undertake discussions face to face in order to achieve an amicable settlement. No unpleasant letters are sent. All important issues and decisions are dealt with by the parties openly with their lawyers. Experience has shown that not only are issues dealt with speedily but costs are also generally lower using the Collaborative Family Law approach.
Once an agreement has been reached using the Collaborative Law process the agreement is signed and lodged at Court. There has been a very strong indication from the President of the Family Division of the High Court that agreements which are lodged at Court having been reached through the Collaborative Law process will be approved on a fast track basis to provide as much encouragement as possible for people to resolve their difficulties in this way.
If you want to find out more about the way in which Collaborative practise works please contact Sandra Meakins, our Family Law Partner in our Farnham office. At the present time, our Farnham office is the only office that has a fully trained Collaborative lawyer but the model in our Farnham office can be used in other areas and Sandra is prepared to travel in order to assist clients who wish to use the new Collaborative Family Law approach.