Mediate, collaborate, or conciliate – just don’t litigate!16-March-2022 Family Law By Simone Green
Unlike other areas of law, Family Law involves people expected to make life-altering decisions when logical thought can be significantly affected by emotional trauma. It is common that separated partners are at different emotional stages of the separation journey, rendering effective communication around a final legal financial settlement difficult, lengthy and expensive.
According to Streeterlaw’s Accredited Specialist and Collaborative Family Lawyer Simone Green, often the real barrier to reaching a legal agreement is emotional hurt, for which there is no legal remedy. Mediation or Collaborative Law, are invaluable resources for separated families to assist them to reach agreement in a sensitive and cost-effective way which allows both people to ‘be heard’ in a way that the rigidity of the Court system does not.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (often referred to as Family Dispute Resolution or mediation) is now a pre-requisite to filing an Application in the Court for parenting or financial orders (with certain exceptions). Each person is expected to make a genuine attempt to resolve their issues outside of Court.
Not everything discussed in a mediation or collaborative law session may be legally relevant but allowing that opportunity for the couple to each have their say, can often remove the emotional roadblocks that have previously stood in the way of moving forward to legal settlement.
Other benefits of both Mediation and Collaborative Law include:
- Flexibility to have multiple sessions to work through tough issues with specially trained and experienced family law professionals.
- Having a set agenda for discussion and forward action to keep accountability with the process.
- Focus on the interests, needs and concerns of each person, rather than set positions, and what is best for the children (if applicable).
- Engagement of other professionals where necessary such child consultants, financial planners, or accountants.
- Each party can have their lawyer present in mediation if desired (Collaborative law requires each party to have separate legal representation).
- Lawyers can draw up any agreements reached as a Consent Order to be filed with the Court, if required.
- Mediation and Collaborative Law are legally privileged communications, meaning that nothing discussed or negotiated during the sessions can be referred to in Court proceedings if agreement cannot be reached.
- Lower costs – both mediation and Collaborative Law are significantly less expensive than going to Court.
- Faster – Even with multiple sessions, the process is much faster than proceeding through the Court.
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