What is collaborative family law?

Family disputes and the end of relationships can be emotionally difficult and expensive if they result in litigation. That's why we are here to offer you the option of collaborative family law solutions.

Collaborative family lawyers 

Birkett Long’s team of family lawyers understand the breakdown of a relationship is stressful and emotional, particularly when it leads to divorce. If you are looking for an alternative way of handling the divorce process, call us today on 01206 217325 or fill in our form and we will contact you.

What is collaborative family law?

Couples now look for alternatives to the traditional divorce process, where a court makes a decision on their behalf. If a court makes a decision, then all control is lost over the future of the family finances. Quite often, the best solution for people is the solution that they work out together.

At its simplest, that is what the collaborative process is all about - reaching solutions together, amicably. 

In the collaborative law process, both separating parties have a solicitor. Rather than conducting negotiations by letter, telephone or through the court, discussions take place face-to-face by way of four-way meetings.

Collaborative law requires a shared commitment to avoid litigation and the court process. It provides couples with an opportunity to work together with their collaborative lawyers to find solutions that enable them and their family to move forward in a positive way.  

How does the collaborative law process work?

The collaborative law process is something that would be described as a hybrid between mediation and solicitor negotiation. It involves both you and your ex-partner instructing lawyers who are trained in the process. Like mediation, it involves a number of meetings, but your lawyer is with you the whole time and you all (lawyers included) commit to reaching an agreement outside of court.

How long does the collaborative law process take?

Collaborative law agreements are usually reached in about three to four months, whereas a contested hearing in court can be expected to take anywhere between nine months and two years.

That means a great deal of extended stress and costs that can potentially be avoided; and whilst each case is different, the collaborative law process will almost certainly cost less in legal fees and court fees

What are the benefits of a collaborative law process? 

The benefits of a collaborative law process are:

  • You can focus on what is important to you and resolve matters quickly.

  • If you have children, they can benefit from the process as it will focus on the children first. There can be improved communication which can assist in laying foundations for healthy relationships afterwards.

  • A collaborative approach can send a powerful message to children that their parents will resolve differences constructively together.

  • All discussions take place face-to-face, leading to less possibility of failure to understand.

Why choose Birkett Long LLP

Birkett Long has the largest collaboratively trained team of lawyers in Essex.

We have 4 Collaborative lawyers at Birkett Long. If you, like us, are committed to dealing with separation amicably and are keen to preserve a good relationship with your ex-partner (despite the end of your romantic relationship), then we are well placed to help you achieve that end.

We all commit not to go to court and you decide the order that matters are discussed. The speed goes at the rate of the slowest person. It is a bespoke approach that allows out-the-box thinking to find the best solution for your unique family. 

There are many options to consider, and we can help you work out which is best for you.

If your marriage has broken down, but you are both looking to resolve things amicably, a collaborative approach could be for you. Contact us on 01206 217 325 to find out how our specialist family lawyers can help you.

Our collaborative lawyers:

Philip Hoddell
"The collaborative process gives couples the freedom to negotiate financial (or children) agreements which best suit them and their family and to keep control of the whole process from start to finish.  It works if everyone is open, open-minded and honest.  It requires a high level of trust in one another and the ability for everyone involved to look at the bigger and broader picture rather than getting bogged down in detail.  In appropriate cases, it’s an incredibly liberating experience for all involved and allows like minded couples to find solutions rather than spending all their time identifying problems."  

Mel Loxley
"Collaborative Law is like a breath of fresh air.  Rather than approaching separation in a way that is driven by process, in collaborative cases it is the clients that set the agenda and the pace.   Instead of advising the client on what they should be looking to achieve and what you believe they are legally entitled to, you listen to what they want to achieve and work out if that is feasible and then, how to best achieve it.


Even though all of our lawyers are members of Resolution and adopt a conciliatory approach to family cases, family law remains an adversarial process. Collaborative law is very different – rather than the lawyers setting our their clients positions and asserting this is the correct way to settle matters, the lawyers communicate openly and without hidden agenda, working together with their respective clients to reach a solution."

Francesca Cozens
"Each family is different and I love the flexibility of Collaborative Law as it enables families to move forward at their pace, prioritising what is most important to them. It is not an option for the faint hearted but for those who want to work together, with the assistance of professionals, I have found Collaborative Law allows creative thinking to achieve the right outcome for their family. By working together in such a way, rather than against each other, many find it good grounding for how they will communicate in the next chapter of their lives.  Many have children and will want to be able to work together for the benefit of the children moving forward."

Shelley Cumbers
"Many families facing divorce or separation will prefer, where possible, to resolve matters in an amicable and civilised manner so that contested court proceedings can be avoided. They will prefer an option which enables them to put the best interests of their family first, especially the interests of their children, so that they can focus on working together to sort out the practical arrangements of their separation.


Collaborative law enables this and the benefits are far-reaching. The process creates an environment whereby it is possible for couples to reach solutions together, at their own pace and in accordance with their own agenda. This allows the couple to concentrate on what is important to their needs, so that they can achieve the best outcome for the family."


Useful Links:

Colchester collaborative lawyers website

Essex Family Solutions Pod