Hampshire Family Legal Solutions
Authored by Catherine Sousa
I have been qualified as a family law solicitor since 2006, and subsequently have become a trained collaborative lawyer and family mediator. The collaborative process is a dignified way for separating couples to resolve matters relating to their finances and/or children with the help of their solicitors by everyone sitting round the table in four-way meetings to discuss matters. Other professionals, such as a pensions expert or an accountant, can be brought into these meetings to make them five-way, six-way etc. Everyone signs up to a participation agreement at the outset to confirm their commitment to the process, and confirming they will not make an application to the court to litigate matters. There is a vested interest on everyone's part to resolve matters within the process as, if it breaks down, the couple has to start again with new lawyers.
Recently a small group of collaborative lawyers and other professionals in the Southampton area, myself included, are piloting a different model of the collaborative process which we have called Hampshire Family Legal Solutions. Here is a link to our website - http://hfls.co.uk/
The model is based on teamwork, involving from the outset support for the couple in the three key areas: legal; financial and emotional. We have an intake meeting for a fixed fee with each of the couple being able to meet with their lawyers, a family consultant and a financial consultant. The needs of any children are very much in the forefront of our minds. Going forward we can then put forward a proposal of which professionals need to be involved and arrange round the table meetings.
I am excited about this new way of working which I hope will benefit couples and their families going through the difficult process of divorce and separation.