Could collaborative practice have saved a wife involved in Family Law proceedings in Melbourne millions of dollars in legal costs?
In the matter in question the wife commenced proceedings for property settlement in 2005. There were numerous applications before the Court. The wife alleged that the property pool was in the millions of dollars whereas her husband provided expert opinion that the property pool was estimated to be $60 million. Extensive costs had been incurred by the parties in these proceedings. In 2009 the wife brought an application in the Court seeking litigation funding and that the husband provide this funding to her. The Judge noted that at the time of the hearing the wife had already spent $10.5 million in legal costs which included the costs for experts such as accountants and so forth.
What if she had approached my firm as a Family Lawyer Brisbane?
Would we as collaborative family lawyers treated this differently and if so when we provided a separation advice to her would we have suggested a different approach for the resolution of the property issues arising from the break down in her marriage?
We would have endeavoured to understand the underlying issues in regard to the break down in the marriage. When interviewing this client we would have established her interests and wishes and would have endeavoured to reach a better understanding of how this matter could have been resolved.
Would the parties be able to negotiate in joint meetings with their collaborative lawyers? Where there emotional issues which needed to be addressed? Had the client emotionally separated from her husband? Did she or her husband require emotional support by having a collaborative trained family psychologist being involved in the process to deal with the emotional issues and to assist the parties to meaningfully negotiate in joint meetings?
It is clear that a collaboratively trained accountant was essential to the process to fully examine the relevant financial documentation and to ascertain the exact matrimonial pool. All of this could have been carried out in collaborative meetings with the parties. Instead of the parties engaging forensic accountants individually and having the opinions of those accountants in direct conflict with each other the process could have involved only one well qualified accountant to provide the necessary information to enable the process to take place. The collaborative accountant would ensure that all relevant information was provided by the parties and would be in a position to express concerns if such information had not been fully provided.
In an ideal situation the collaborative practice process would have assisted the parties to resolve such matters in a timely and efficient manner with large savings on the legal and professional costs incurred.
Collaborative practice requires the willing involvement of the parties in the negotiations that would take place.
For full details of collaborative practice please refer to my website where a collaborative practice is fully explained.