If you both, with your prospective lawyers, agree that the Collaborative process will be the right process for you then the following will usually take place:
- There will be an individual meeting with your respective collaborative lawyers to discuss what to expect, your priorities and goals and what each will need to do to prepare for the first meeting when everyone is together - often referred to as a ‘four way meeting’ as they include the couple and two lawyers.
- Ahead of the first ‘four way meeting’ the two lawyers will discuss and agree the agenda.
- At the first ‘four way meeting’ the couple and lawyers will sign a participation agreement reflecting their commitment to working together to find the best solution without having to go to court. The couple will then be invited to share their reasons for choosing the Collaborative process in what is often termed an Anchor Statement that is prepared in advance.
- Depending on your priorities, in financial cases you may then go on to discuss how financial information is to be collected and shared; whether any valuation or other reports may be needed and if so how they will be obtained. You will then both agree the agenda for the following meeting.
- Where there are issues relating to children discussions may begin with how they have responded to the separation and whether any steps could be taken in the short term to improve the situation for them.
- Subsequent meetings will deal with your priorities and concerns. This may involve working with other professional support either within the meetings or in parallel to them in order to help you both reach an agreement on how the finances will be shared or what arrangements will need to be made for any children.
- Where an agreement is reached the lawyers will prepare for the final meeting the documents detailing the arrangements which once signed will then be put into effect by making them legally binding.