A partner at Midlands law firm Harvey Ingram is now qualified to offer an innovative new service, which is still a relatively new concept in the UK.

Jane Cowley, partner and head of the firm's family law group, is now able to use collaborative law as a method of helping clients to resolve their matrimonial disputes outside of court.

It is a way of problem solving in a divorce situation, requiring collaborative lawyers representing both parties.

Ms Cowley said: "We work together as a team with the mutual aim of containing conflict and helping families to restructure in an amicable way. It avoids the confrontation and emotional upheaval that can be associated with the courts."

She said collaborative law was particularly beneficial for couples who sought a civilised, respectful resolution of issues, looking to retain a friendship with their former partner, especially where children were involved.

"It is all about fixing the problem rather than apportioning blame, so can provide a quicker, less costly, method of resolving disputes," she noted. "It offers better protection for children because it avoids the emotional harm sometimes associated with litigation, and is a good choice for those who value privacy and do not want their problems to be aired in court."

Collaborative lawyers can do everything that a conventional family lawyer does except go to court.

They can consider pre-nuptial agreements, living together agreements, and civil partnerships. ..SUPL: