For what it’s worth, I think the collaborative approach to law will gather pace in the coming years to the point that it is commonplace. It is taking a long time to catch on in the UK after it was exported here from the US where its origins lay, but it will get there.
Couples choosing to go down the route of a collaborative divorce sign up to reaching an agreement without going to court and through debating the points of a settlement in a non-confrontational way. All good so far. However, I think what holds it back currently is that both parties need to be represented by a specially trained collaborative lawyer, it needs both parties to agree on something which is not currently commonplace – and it can be more expensive than a “traditional” divorce.
For it to work effectively, collaborative law relies on an active “pod” – or group of collaborative lawyers – in a given area. It also needs both parties to be committed to the method of working and making it work. For their part, lawyers need to see a value in it to validate spend on the training.
I believe all this will come as more people see the benefits of it. However, in the meantime it is important to remember that any normal divorce can work this way also. People may not specifically appoint collaborative lawyers but family law protocol dictates that the approach should always be non confrontational. We know it’s not but maybe we can do more to flag this up to people – both clients and other lawyers – indicating the code of conduct says we should not be aggressive but approach issues in a calm and reasonable manner with an eye on achieving a swift, beneficial outcome for all.
Good family lawyers will always take this approach. The Rottweiler lawyer types we typically see on EastEnders and other UK soaps are not following the rules and I am sure there will always be those out there who act in this way - but wouldn’t it be great if every family solicitor acted more responsibly rather than confirming a stereotype perpetuated by a soap?