Skip to main content

What is Collaborative Law, and how does it work in Scotland?

What is Collaborative Law, and how does it work in Scotland?

Separation or divorce can be a painful and stressful experience. Collaborative family law is a commonly used type of Alternative Dispute Resolution which can help separating couples reach an amicable agreement without going to court.

What is Collaborative Law?

Collaborative family law in Scotland offers separating couples an opportunity to work together with their respective solicitors in a non-confrontational manner to resolve disputes related to family matters. The principle of collaborative law is for both parties to commit to reaching a mutually acceptable and binding agreement without going to court. 

What is the process?

The process begins with you and your spouse or partner each consulting with your solicitor individually to discuss what you would like to achieve. You will then have a series of round table discussions, called four-way meetings, with your solicitors present to talk about various aspects of your separation, such as financial matters and arrangements for children, focusing on your shared needs, interests and priorities. You will be encouraged to communicate calmly, honestly, and respectfully. As well as having your solicitors present, if necessary, you can also seek the help of other professionals such as financial professionals or family coaches. These other professionals can be appointed by you together, to work as “neutrals” which not only saves on costs but also encourages you to work together with them to find solutions.

Importantly, you will agree to resolve matters without going to court. Once you have exchanged proposals and reached decisions, your solicitors will record them in a formal Minute of Agreement that will be binding on both of you. You will only require to go to court to have your divorce granted. If you are unable to reach decisions during the process and decide to resolve your disputes by going to court instead, you and your spouse or partner will have to find new solicitors.

How could it help you? 

Rather than focusing on what you are entitled to in terms of the law, the collaborative process allows you to focus together on the outcomes that you want to achieve. The process can reduce the stress of going through a separation and one of the primary benefits is that it allows you to maintain control over the decision-making process. This flexible approach can often lead to more creative and tailored solutions that better meet the unique circumstances of your family. In the longer term, it promotes a more amicable and cooperative relationship which is especially beneficial when co-parenting.

What will it cost? 

The cost of the collaborative process will depend on the complexity of your issues and how quickly you are able to resolve them. The costs will be comparable with more traditional options, such as negotiating between solicitors, but the process is likely to be less expensive and more time efficient than a defended court action. It is open to you to negotiate and agree how the costs will be funded. Usually, each party will meet their own solicitor’s costs. 

At Thorntons, we will always be clear about the potential costs at the start of the collaborative process and as it continues. All of our team with the necessary post qualifying experience have  trained in the process, so we currently have 7 solicitors across all of our locations who can offer this service to our clients. We are committed to our more junior members also doing the training because we believe that as many cases as possible should be dealt with in this positive way, If you would like more information on collaborative law or any other aspect of our family law services, contact a member of our Family Law team on 03330 430150. 

About the author

Ashley Brolly
Ashley Brolly

Ashley Brolly



For more information, contact Ashley Brolly or any member of the Family team on +44 131 624 6960.