What is collaborative law divorce?

The collaborative law process takes a non-confrontational approach to divorce and family matters. This involves each person appointing their own specialist, collaborative lawyer who will support and advise them through a process of face to face discussions. Those involved sign an agreement at the start of the process that commits them to trying to resolve issues without the need to go to court.

The process

Both you and your partner will need to appoint collaborative lawyers to represent you. You will have an initial discussion with your lawyer so that you understand what to expect and what will be needed to prepare for the process, including your first ‘four way’ meeting.

Four way meetings

Collaborative meetings are often called ‘four way’ meetings – simply because they are between you, your partner and both of your lawyers. The initial meeting will focus on ensuring both parties understand they are committing to working things out without going to court and an agreement to this effect will need to be signed. You will use this initial meeting to agree your objectives including the detail of what will be covered and what information will be needed at future meetings.

The agenda for further meetings will of course depend on your personal circumstances and the specific issues involved. For example, you may have children to consider or you may need specialist advice on financial matters. At the final four way meeting you will be in a position to sign documents which outline the agreements reached and will be able to discuss the finer details so that both you and your partner are clear about what has been agreed.


Unlike the court process, the timescale of the collaborative process is driven by the individuals involved and their particular issues and priorities. This could mean only one or two meetings are required, but more will take place as necessary until agreement is reached. It is entirely dependent on your situation so there is no defined timescale.

Is this the right process for you?

Collaborative law has proven successful in dealing with potentially emotional situations without the need to go to court. The process is less acrimonious, less expensive and quicker than court proceedings as the parties involved work together with their solicitors to reach agreement, rather than having a decision imposed upon them by the court.

Collaborative lawyers are trained by legal group Resolution, an organisation which campaigns for improvements to the family justice system and promotes a constructive approach to family issues.

At Napthens our family law partner Helen Lucking is one of only a few lawyers in Lancashire who have been highly trained and qualified in this specialist field.

Contact us to talk to a member of our family team in confidence about a relationship breakdown or a family issue, or to find out more about the collaborative law process.