The Collaborative Approach (Mediation with Representation)

collaborative law

As you may be aware, when couples separate, they cannot instruct one family lawyer to assist them reach an agreement. If couples wish to seek legal advice following separation, they each have to take independent legal advice from specialist family solicitors. However, some people prefer a more flexible approach, which allows them to work together with their former spouse to resolve the issues. The Collaborative Approach and Mediation with Representation are two effective options. Allowing separating couples to work together to reach an agreement amicably.

However, it is important to know these options are considerably different. Therefore need to be carefully reviewed and explored with your lawyer to ensure you pursue the best option for you.


This is often a good way of resolving matters directly with your spouse.

Mediation involves an independent third party (the mediator) who acts as an umpire. They will facilitate the discussions between you and your former partner to try to assist you reach an agreement.

The mediator will speak to you and your partner separately at first. Then aim to get you both round a table to talk about your options. Ultimately trying to reach an agreement which works for you both.

However, the mediator cannot give specific legal advice and so is totally impartial. It is essential, therefore, to receive advice from a lawyer alongside your negotiations at mediation. It is also important to be aware your lawyer cannot attend mediation with you.

Some people find that this does not work for them. They prefer for their lawyer to be present to assist them in the negotiations (as with Collaborative Law).

It also may not be appropriate where there is an imbalance of power between you. Or there has been any form of domestic abuse. However, for some people, even where there is conflict, it can be an effective process for resolving tricky issues. It can also help with communication issues and understanding the others point of view. 

Collaborative Law

If you like the idea of meeting with your former partner to try to reach an agreement, but would prefer for your lawyer to be present to assist, it may be the collaborative approach is better for you. 

Collaborative law is a form of negotiation in which the separating couple and their lawyers commit to resolving matters, without Court involvement. Therefore, if you cannot ultimately reach an agreement using the collaborative process, both of you will need to instruct new lawyers, if you wish to apply to the Court. This often acts as an incentive to reach an agreement. 

With collaborative law, you and your former partner sit round the table with your lawyers (who must be collaboratively trained) and work out a resolution together. Therefore, rather than each of your solicitors negotiating in correspondence on your behalf, you all work together to find a solution. The aim is to achieve a fair resolution for everyone – putting the children first.

In these four way meetings, you and your lawyers work together to ask questions, share information and brainstorm. To try to find a solution that works for you and your family (this is particularly important where there are children involved).

Clearly this approach will not work for everyone. It requires a genuine desire to reach an agreement that is fair for the whole family and a willingness to honestly disclose information about all assets. 


At Hart Reade, we have three collaboratively trained family lawyers, Guy Brown, Greg Saunders and Carolyn Richards.

Therefore, if you like the idea of the collaborative process and wish to discuss it in further detail, please contact our family law team to arrange an appointment.

In view of the fact all of our circumstances are different, it is always important to seek advice from an experienced family law specialist. To discuss your circumstances and consider if the collaborative process is right for you. Or whether there are more appropriate options.

At Hart Reade, all of our family law solicitors are members of Resolution. Which means we are committed to resolving matters by agreement and in a non-confrontational manner.

We can provide you with a wealth of information, advice and support to assist you during what can be a difficult time. If you wish to speak to any of the family law team, please call us on 01323 727321, or alternatively please complete the contact form below.

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Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice. You should always speak to a legal professional to discuss your circumstances and consider your options on The Collaborative Approach (Mediation with Representation).