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Collaborative Law

Collaborative law offers an alternative to Court proceedings for resolving the practical issues surrounding separation, including agreeing a financial settlement and arrangements for children. It offers an alternative option to separating couples as it can effectively deal with even the most complex issues, while being faster, less costly and less stressful process than using the Courts.

Within Collaborative Law the emphasis is for all those involved, both parties and their lawyers, to problem solve rather than fight to “win”. An integral part of the collaborative law process is that the parties and lawyers all sign a formal agreement committing them to being open and honest, and to disclose all relevant documents. All participants agree to act respectfully towards each other and look to the future, rather than apportioning blame for the past.

Our specialist team of collaboratively trained lawyers can offer the practical legal and emotional support you need to find positive solutions in your separation.

Benefits of Collaborative Law

Collaborative law offers a number of benefits for divorce and separation compared to Court proceedings, including:

  • You and your spouse stay in control of the agenda and the process and decide what is discussed and when.
  • You avoid the uncertainty of litigation, where the final decision is in the hands of a judge.
  • The scope for settlement is wider – you can include whatever makes sense to you and your spouse, rather than just what a judge thinks is important.
  • It is often quicker and more flexible – matters are normally determined within 3 to 5 sessions.
  • You can call on the expertise of other professionals where needed, including family consultants, financial planners, and accountants.
  • It reduces the emotional strain on the family and protects children from the dispute.
  • You can address any emotional issues that exist – something the Court system cannot do.
  • It can make divorce or separation much easier on your children by reducing conflict between you and your spouse

How collaborative law works

There are various stages to the collaborative law process and exactly what is involved will depend on your circumstances. In general, the process will look something like this:

  • You and your spouse agree to use collaborative law and each choose your own lawyers, who have undertaken specialist training in collaborative law.
  • You, your spouse and your respective lawyers all sign an agreement committing you to being open, honest and respectful to each other, and to disclose all relevant documents. This agreement will also state that your lawyers cannot represent you in any subsequent Court proceedings if collaborative law is not successful.
  • You will then have a series of ‘round the table’ meetings to discuss the specific issues you need to resolve, such as agreeing a financial settlement and agreeing the arrangements for any children you have together. Your respective lawyers will advise you during these meetings and other professionals, such as accountants, can also sit in and provide advice if needed.
  • Once you have agreed all aspects of your settlement, your lawyers will work together to draw up a written agreement setting out the details of those arrangements.
  • You will then have a final meeting where you and your ex-partner will review and sign the agreement and discuss anything that needs to happen to put the agreed arrangements into practice.

Our collaborative lawyers in Plymouth

Wolferstans’ Family Law team includes three trained collaborative lawyers with extensive experience of advising in high value divorces and in cases with complex assets.

Phil Thorneycroft – Partner, Solicitor, Collaborative Lawyer

Phil has been qualified as a solicitor since 1982 and is now one of the firm’s senior partners. He has been trained in collaborative law for over 10 years and has a huge experience of settling cases using the process.

Phil is a family law expert and has considerable experience in dealing with cases where the assets are over £1m. Phil particularly specialises in matrimonial cases which involve companies and pensions.

Phil has made a number of appearances on television dealing with issues such as pre-nuptial agreements, financial provision and the effect of pensions on divorce. He also has a monthly spot on Radio Plymouth providing updates on the law.

Phil is a member of the Devon Resolution committee and a resolution accredited specialist in advocacy, financial provision and children law. He is also a member of the local family Justice Board and past President of Plymouth Law Society. He is recognised by his peers in ‘Chambers guide’ as a leader in his field.

“Very professional. I have used Wolferstans for a number of purposes and would not hesitate to recommend them to others. I most recently used them for a very difficult personal matter – handled sensitively and in a non-judgemental manner. I felt fully supported throughout a difficult process. Thank you.” - Ms G, Plymouth

Rebecca Moloney – Associate, Solicitor

Rebecca is a trained collaborative lawyer. Rebecca qualified as a solicitor in 2010 and has been at Wolferstans since 2014 after working for a large local law firm.

Rebecca undertakes most areas of family law for both married and cohabiting couples with an emphasis upon the financial aspects associated with the relationship breakdown. Rebecca advises on matters concerning divorce as well as preparing separation agreements, pre and post nuptial agreements. Rebecca regularly advises on matters involving businesses, pensions and property portfolios.

Rebecca also has extensive experience acting for parties in disputes concerning arrangements for children.

Rebecca is an experienced advocate in all areas of her specialism and regularly attends court to represent her clients.

Rebecca is a member of Resolution which means that she is required to comply with a Code of Practice which promotes the resolution of issues arising from separation in a constructive way.

Vikki Martin - Partner, Head of Family Department, Solicitor

Vikki is trained as a collaborative lawyer. The collaborative law process encourages separated clients to resolve matters away from Court. Vikki feels that where possible, it is normally better for everyone, especially children, if matters can be resolved away from Court.

Vikki qualified as a Solicitor with a local law firm, Foot Anstey in September 2009 and joined Wolferstans in July 2012. Vikki is a Partner at Wolferstans and is the head of our Family Department. Vikki oversees the day to day running of the team and supervises members of the department. Vikki has advised and supported hundreds of clients in the difficult process of relationship breakdown. Vikki has a particular specialism in advising clients with complicated and high value matrimonial assets including companies, farms, trusts, pension funds and property portfolios.

Vikki is an experienced advocate in all areas of her specialism and regularly attends Court to represent clients as well as offering office-based advice and support. Vikki also has experience on advising clients on and drafting cohabitation agreements, pre-nuptial agreements and separation agreements.

Vikki is a member of Resolution which means that she is required to comply with a Code of Practice which promotes the resolution of problems arising from family breakdown in a constructive and non-confrontational way. Vikki is the Secretary of Devon Resolution and is a Resolution accredited specialist in the areas of financial provision and domestic abuse. Vikki is also a member of the Family Law Panel which is a nationwide consortium of experts which supports families in making the best choices.

For friendly, confidential and expert advice from our Collaborative Law team, please call us today on 01752 292201.

Have a question? Get in touch.

Meet the team