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Collaborative Family Law

What is Collaborative Family Law?

A way of creating deep and lasting change in the family law system that responds to the needs of the family.

Collaborative Family law is a form of family dispute resolution which assists couples going through a separation or divorce to work through the issues and problems that arise from the breakdown of their relationship.

Collaborative Family Law offers a problem solving based approach to relationship breakdowns which focuses on not only the needs, interests and concerns of the individual, but those of the other party and most importantly the family as a whole.

Unlike the traditional litigation approach where each party takes positions or an adversarial approach, and they engage lawyers, who will effectively going into battle with them, collaborative family law starts with looking at what people who are separating, need, are concerned about and interested in.

The collaborative family law approach considers Court as the last resort and is dignified and cost –effective way of resolving divorce or separation.

How does it work?

There are 4 key requirements to participate in collaborative family law

  1. You and your ex-partner agree to not go to Court and the process is confidential
  2. You and your ex-partner meet face to face to solve the issues that have arisen because of the divorce or separation;
  3. You and your ex-partner focus on the needs of the entire family;
  4. If the process breakdown, then the lawyers you have engaged cannot act for you if the matter were to proceed to Court.

How is it different to going to Court?

Divorce and separation is a difficult time for all parties and even more so where children are involved and where financial resources are limited.

At Court, typically each party has their own lawyer and each party takes a position of their entitlements, rarely considering the impact on the other person or their children or family as a whole.

The process is adversarial and client’s communicate through their lawyers.   In this process the lawyers control the communication and there is no transparency in the communication between them.

Adversarial Family Law Model

Adversarial Family Law Model

In Collaborative Family Law, the separating couples are supported by their respective family lawyers and the communications occur face to face in a respectful and transparent manner. At times the couple may request the assistance of other professionals, such as coaches, these are professionals who have a psychology or social science expertise or financial planners, accountants or child psychologists. In this way the separating couple create a team that offers professional support as required for the benefit of the whole family.

Collaborative Family Law Model

Collaborative Family Law Model

How is it different to mediation?

Collaborative family law is a problem solving practice. The separating couple will work in collaboration with their chosen professionals, to work out a solution that is fair and workable not only for that individual, but the other party and the family.

Traditional mediation offers a three way process, where the leader or the person who controls the process is the mediator and the parties try and mediate, negotiate and compromise to reach a settlement or agreement. In this process, the separating couples may engage the assistance of a lawyer, but the process is limited in both time and the availability of other professionals who can assist the separating couple in creating solutions to complex financial or parenting problems for example.

Traditional Mediation Model

Traditional Mediation Model

How much does Collaborative Family Law cost?

Generally speaking each party pays for the costs of each of their lawyers and shares the costs of the professionals that are engaged to assist the separating couple with addressing all the concerns and issues that arise from the breakdown of their relationship.

The legal costs are generally half that of the costs of family law litigation. So it makes economic sense to engage in the collaborative family law process.

More than the financial costs, the costs to the emotional and psychological health of the individual, the children, the family finances and to the ongoing and future relationship of the separating couple is significantly reduced.

If you would like more information on collaborative family law please call us.

Cominos Family Lawyers. Call 02 8999 1800 or email us here.