How Do I Avoid Family Court after Relationship Breakdown – Part 2
Collaborative Law Can Keep You Out Of Court.
Pros of Collaborative Law
- Allows people negotiate their own outcomes with their own assets and liabilities.
- Allows people to communicate directly with the former partner to work out how time with the children in the future can work for them and for the children.
- Costs a lot less than battling in the Family Courts. (Note: that money can be used to get on with life and pay for things for the children or the person)
- Balances out power imbalances by allowing experts to attend the process such as Psychologists or financial advisors.
- Able to promote outcomes to preserve relationships between parties who will need to have some contact in the future such as co-parenting relationships.
- Able to have your lawyer with you throughout the process to help you make the right decisions.
- Fast, efficient and mostly cost effective.
Cons of Collaborative Law
- Still costs the money to get advice and representation by your family lawyer.
- Takes longer than most mediations.
Collaborative Law / Collaborative Practice in Family Law Matters is an alternative dispute resolutions (ADR) process whereby former partners, their lawyers and sometimes other professionals meet regularly to work through the issues related to time each will spend with the children and how the property will be divided.
As with some other ADR processes self-determination, compromise and negotiation are the tenants upon which Collaborative Law is based.
While mediation in most modern setting with respect to Family Law matters in Australia has largely morphed into a process of fighting for property and children’s time by the lawyers representing the client, Collaborative Practice is a process focused on keeping decisions in the hands of the parties.
Collaborative meetings are held periodically until a matter is resolved. This may be on a weekly, fortnightly basis and is very flexible so that parties have time to prepare for the meetings.
The Collaborative Law Process
The process roughly works on first letting the parties set out what they want and need and then discussion is undertaken to achieve outcomes that can as best as possible address the wants and needs. Often between meetings parties will have “homework”. These tasks may range from determining the value of property to getting information about schools that it is proposed children may attend in the future. Once homework is done then the parties report back to the next meeting.
Often in the process there are real emotional or knowledge-based inequalities between the former partners as one partner may have had more knowledge of the finances of the relationship or if there has been emotional power imbalances within the relationship. Accountants, Financial Advisors and even Psychologists / Counselors can help and are often used to even the playing field.
The other major benefit ensuring that the parties are committed to the process is that should the process break down the parties and their lawyer have entered into a contract to terminate representation should the process fail. This means parties will realise that if they do not continue the process they will need to find another family lawyer which means further cost and hassle. It also means that the Family Lawyer will be determined that the process continue for the sake of the parties.
We have had many satisfied client undertake the Collaborative Law process and from experience know that their outcomes could have been a whole lot different had they chosen to fight it out in Court.