Frequently Asked Questions

How is Collaborative Practice Different from Going to Court?

Collaborative Practice is a new way of resolving family law matters including Divorce, Separation and Parenting Disputes.

There are some key aspects which make it different from other ways of resolving family disputes. These include:

  • The parties and their lawyers commit that they will not go to court or threaten to go to court unless it is to rubber stamp an agreement at the end of the process.
  • The parties in dispute commit to being honest and open with each other.
  • The process involves face-to-face negotiations between the parties in dispute and their lawyers through a series of Four-Way Meetings.
  • The parties and their lawyers try to reach an agreement which takes everyone’s needs and interests into account, including those of any children.

How does Collaborative Practice work?

You and your partner work together with specially trained collaborative lawyers. You each receive legal advice and guidance, and together with your lawyers, discuss and resolve issues through face to face meetings called four-way meetings.

Can we go to Court during the Collaborative Process?

At the start, you, your partner and both lawyers sign an agreement disqualifying your collaborative lawyers from representing you at court if the collaborative process breaks down. Neither of the lawyers can act for you in any contested court proceedings. In the unlikely event of the collaborative process breaking down you will instruct another lawyer.

What are the Benefits of not going to Court?

· If everyone commits to the process in good faith, the process is much faster and much less acrimonious than court proceedings.

· You can set your own agenda according to what is most important for you and your family

· You will have a greater degree of control over the process, including the pace at which you negotiate, and you won't risk key decisions being made by a judge who will not be as familiar with your family as you

· The collaborative process is generally far less stressful than court proceedings, which are widely regarded as being one of the most stressful events that a person can encounter.

· With collaborative law there should be no surprises and each party should know what to expect.

· If the process is successful you will have an agreement with your partner which both of you will have had responsibility for, and which, hopefully, should be a more workable framework for post-separation plans than a court-imposed solution.

· You can construct the agreement in order to allow for the type of co-parenting arrangements that you would like for your children after your separation rather than allowing a judge to make that decision for you.

Is every lawyer trained in Collaborative Law?

No. Not every lawyer is trained in Collaborative Law and you will not be able to engage in the process if your partner's lawyer is not trained as a Collaborative Lawyer. Please see the website of the Association of Collaborative Practitioners at where you will be able to see a list of Collaborative Lawyers in your area.

If my Partner’s Lawyer is not trained in Collaborative Law, what happens?

In these cases, your lawyer will make every effort to work with your Partner’s solicitor to assist you in resolving issues without the necessity of issuing courtproceedings. The case will not, however, be conducted as a collaborative case.

Will Collaborative Practice work for me?

The collaborative process depends on both parties making full and frank disclosure of all of their assets so that negotiations and discussions can be honest and open. Experience has shown that if the parties commit to openness and honest, there is a strong probability that the process will work and that the agreement will be a far more effective and workable agreement than any arrangements that might be imposed by a court.

How can I find out more?

Please visit the Useful Website Links on this site for a list of websites where you can read more about Collaborative Practice in Ireland and abroad.

If you would like to discuss Collaborative Practice or if you or someone you know is going through marital breakdown and would like more information about Family Law, please contact Lillian O’Sullivan on 021 4274711 or at to arrange a free consultation.

Lillian O’Sullivan & Co., Solicitors are based at 48 Maylor Street, Cork, Ireland.