Collaborative Law – a better way to separate and divorce

The collaborative process often provides a more civilised solution for separating couples. It enables a supportive environment for the couple and allows them to focus on their own priorities.

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What is Collaborative Law?

The traditional way of trying to settle differences when couples separate, is for each person to take independent advice from their solicitors and, through them, try to reach an agreement by negotiation or, if that fails, through court proceedings. This can often be a very slow process and inimical to family relationships. 

Using collaborative law, rather than months of ‘toing and froing’ between solicitors, the parties and their lawyers commit to resolving all issues through a series of ‘four-way’ round table meetings. Each solicitor will still give their own client independent legal advice and any divergent advice is discussed openly. All parties commit to dealing with one another respectfully, and crucially, the Court process is formally excluded. They do this by signing a participation agreement that prevents the lawyers from subsequently acting for their client if an impasse is reached and court proceedings become necessary.

How does Collaborative Law work?

The parties set the agenda, allowing them time to talk about things that matter most to them. The parties will choose how and when to provide disclosure of their finances and the timing of when divorce proceedings are issued. The process may involve just a couple of meetings, or for more complicated cases with multiple issues, there could be 4 or 5 meetings.  Third party experts, such as financial neutrals or child specialists, may be brought in to help the parties and their lawyers tackle difficult issues where specialist advice is required.

What are the benefits of Collaborative Law?

Those who have used the collaborative law process often find that the parties are less ‘positional’ in their fixed views of what the outcome should be and can be more creative with the solutions that are best for them. Most importantly, where there are children, it gives the parents the best chance of retaining a civilised relationship with one another after the process has concluded. They often conclude the process with a more sanguine view of their future.

Is the collaborative law process right for me?

For the process to work the parties must have:

  1. A genuine desire to reach an agreement that is fair to the whole family;
  2. A willingness to honestly disclose information about their finances;
  3. Instructed a solicitor who is collaboratively trained and accredited;
  4. A commitment to reach a solution without going to Court.

How can Goughs help?

Collaborative law is one of several Alterative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods available to family law practitioners designed to avoid the stress and costs of court proceedings. At Goughs we have a team of 13 specialist family lawyers available to assist with every unique set of circumstances. This includes Matthew Drew who is our trained Collaborative Lawyer. To book your free initial consultation, complete the form below or email

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Author Bio

Matthew Drew

I graduated with a law and business studies degree before working in London for the Crown Prosecution Service. In January 1991, I joined Goughs and then completed my Law Society finals at the University of the West of England, Bristol. After completing my training with the firm, I became a Partner in 1999.

As a partner in the Family Department, I specialise in complex, high-value financial cases following on from divorce and separation. I also have a great deal of experience in private law Children Act cases, particularly acting for parents in relation to Child Arrangement Orders. I am also a member of the Armed Forces sector team.

As the firms’ Finance Partner, I am responsible for the financial management of the practice. More recently I became Managing Partner in 2021, I am proud to lead the strategic development of the firm at a time when all departments are seeing growth, in terms of both client matters and a strong recruitment drive within the firm.


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