Collaborative law is a form of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR. Other dispute resolution mechanisms included mediation. Unlike mediation, collaborative law is lead by legal professionals. It is a way to resolve a dispute or difference between people, using legal professionals, but without going to court.
Collaborative law is a specialist area within family law that is not yet heavily used in Ireland, but is in development. To resolve an issue using this approach, it would be important to find solicitors who are properly trained in collaborative law. In this process, each partner has a separate solicitor who is trained in Collaborative Law.
All negotiations to resolve the dispute take place in meetings that are attended by each partner and their solicitor. The number of meetings necessary will depend on the complexity of the issues to be agreed, and how easily settlements or solutions can be found. Like mediation, the process relies on people being open and honest with each other, and to work in good faith to a resolution of the issue or issues.
The collaborative law process can be less stressful and less acrimonious than going to court, and can be better suited to resolving matters that arise in family law disputes such as access and parenting matters.