Collaborative Law – Stay out of Court and Save Money!10-November-2018 Family Law By Simone Green
There is a very fine line between love and hate and it comes as no surprise to those of us who work in Family Law that some people who once loved each other passionately now seek to destroy their former partner with an equal intensity.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way however. Ask a family lawyer if they would ever go to court themselves and you will hear a resounding ‘no way’! This is not because we family lawyers are in any way different to you or are somehow immune from the trials and tribulations of family relationship breakdowns; it is because we see firsthand the damage it causes to families, especially the children, when things become adversarial. People who rush to litigate are gambling with their future, finances, their mental health and their relationships with their children.
Happily, this doesn’t mean that the only option is to surrender however; there are many alternatives to court-based resolution available to separated families which we strongly recommend as a first option to litigation.
Streeterlaw’s Accredited Specialist Family Lawyer Simone Green is a collaboratively trained lawyer and strong advocate of collaborative law as an option for alternative settlement negotiations where the former partners can be in the same room as each other and have a common desire and commitment to stay out of court and achieve a negotiated settlement. Collaborative Law is quickly growing as a real, cost and time effective method of settling family property and custody disputes. Collaborative law has a remarkable success rate in achieving out of court settlements with a high level of satisfaction from participants in the process.
So what is collaborative Law?
- Collaborative Law is a process whereby a separated couple attends a series of round table meetings with a team of professionals dedicated to assisting them to achieve an outcome which is acceptable and fair for the whole family.
- Collaborative law is not positional in the same way as mediation. It is based on interests, needs and concerns of each person and these are explored in a sensitive and inclusive way. This method allows for each person to be ‘heard’ and to have their concerns considered in a way that may not be possible within the limits of the Family Courts.
- The collaborative law ‘team’ consists of:
- a lawyer for each of the separated couple;
- a ‘coach’ who facilitates the meetings and meets separately with each person to discuss their interests, needs and concerns;
- can include a ‘financial neutral’ such as an accountant or financial planner as part of the process to provide independent input and base modelling of various proposals and outcomes;
- can include a ‘child consultant’ who may be a social worker, counsellor or psychologist who will meet with the children and ascertain their views and report back to the meetings.
- All members of the professional team must have completed the requisite collaborative law training to be involved in the process. It is essential if considering the process to speak to your former partner and, if they are willing, ensure that they seek a collaboratively trained lawyer. A list of collaboratively trained professionals can be found on the website of the Collaborative Practice New South Wales being http://collabprofessionalsnsw.org.au/practitioners/
There are similar organisations in each state.
- Each collaborative law meeting contains an agenda of what will be discussed which is determined by the professionals in advance. Written minutes of each meeting noting any agreements reached and action points or ‘homework’ needed to be done before the next meeting are circulated.
- There can be as many meetings as required to reach an agreement.
- There is a commitment from the team of collaborative professionals to do all they can to work together rather than against each other to facilitate agreements between the separated couple. If negotiations fail, and the couple decides to go to Court, neither lawyer can continue to act for their client in those court proceedings.
- All meetings are held jointly and face to face. This means that clients save money on back and forth correspondence between the lawyers. A further benefit is that misunderstandings are minimised as all meetings are face to face and issues can be dealt with as they arise with everyone present.
- The costs involved in the Collaborative Law process are much less than going to Court.
- When an agreement is reached, the solicitors can draft consent orders detailing the terms of the agreement and file it with the Family Court to provide orders quickly without anyone having to go to Court.
If you would like to discuss whether Collaborative Law is suitable for you, we invite you to make an appointment with Streeterlaw’s Accredited Specialist Family Lawyer Simone Green by calling 02 8197 0105 or use the below web form to ask us about Collaborative Law!
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