Collaborative law is an alternative method of resolution of family disputes...
Collaborative law is a form of alternative dispute resolution for family law matters including separation and divorce for couples who need strong legal representation, but would like to avoid litigation.
The aim is to find a fair and equitable agreement for the couple based on reasoned judgment and realistic aspirations. The success and effectiveness of the system depends on the honesty, cooperation and integrity of the participants. It is geared towards the future and ongoing wellbeing of the family as a whole.
The essence of the process is that it is in the best interests of the participants and their families to try to resolve these disputes in a non-confrontational way. This is achieved by way of informal discussions with each party ensuring their direct influence on the outcome.
The ultimate aim is to avoid conflict and the use of court in family law disputes and to provide sustainable and comprehensive solutions to separating couples and their families.
What is the difference between Collaboration and Mediation?
In mediation, an impartial third party (the mediator) assists the negotiations of both parties and tries to help settle your case. However, the mediator cannot give either of you legal advice or be an advocate for either side. If there are lawyers for each of you, they may or may not be present at the mediation sessions, but if they are not present, then you can consult them between mediation sessions. When there’s an agreement, the mediator prepares a draft of the settlement terms for review and editing by both you and your lawyers.
Collaboration (also known as collaborative law) allows you both to have lawyers present during the negotiation process to keep settlement as the top priority. The lawyers, who have training similar to mediators, work with their clients and one another to assure a balanced process that’s positive and productive. When there is agreement, a document is drafted by the lawyers, and reviewed and edited by you both until everyone is satisfied.
How does it work?
Both you and your partner work 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.
All negotiations take place in ‘four-way’ settlement meetings that both the parties and their lawyers attend. The lawyer’s role is to guide and advise the parties towards a reasonable resolution. While the legal advice is an integral part of the process, all of the decisions are made by the parties. Conflict resolution, and an outcome that is satisfactory for both parties and their families, is the objective.
If either party chooses or decides to proceed to court then the collaborative process ends, the lawyer’s fees are paid and both collaborative lawyers are disqualified from the process and can no longer act for either party in the context of contested family law proceedings.
What are the advantages of negotiating outside the court process?
Provided everyone enters the process in good faith, the process is faster and less acrimonious than court proceedings.
You can set your own agenda according to what matters most to 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 complete stranger, namely a judge.
The process is likely to be 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, will be a more effective basis than a court imposed solution, for maintaining a relationship with your partner for the benefit particularly of any children.
Is every lawyer suitable for collaborative law?
Collaborative law involves new skills that not all lawyers may have, unless they have been trained in the collaborative process. It is likely to be more difficult to engage in successful collaboration if your partner's lawyer is not trained and familiar with the process.
LawPlus has experienced family lawyers who are fully trained and recognised as collaborative family lawyers, and who can represent you in any collaborative law negotiations.
Is it likely to be successful?
The process is dependent on both parties making full and frank disclosure of all of their assets so that negotiations can be honest and open. Experience has shown that if there is that honesty and openness there is a strong probability that the process will work and that the agreement that you come away with, will be a far more effective and workable agreement than any arrangements that might be imposed by a court.
To discuss the collaborative law process or to instruct a collaborative lawyer contact LawPlus Family today.