Collaborative Practice is a new approach to family law in Australia where each person appoints their own lawyer who is trained in this dispute resolution method. Collaborative Law differs from mediation in that collaborative family lawyers advise and advocate for their respective party rather than acting as a neutral facilitator.
The parties sign an agreement that they will not go to Court during this process.
In Collaborative Practice, the couple and the collaborative family lawyers work together to share information and arrive at solutions through a series of meetings. The parties negotiate with the assistance of their lawyers in the collaborative meetings.
Collaborative family lawyers often work with other professionals such as counsellors, accountants and financial advisers. These individuals are trained in collaborative approaches, and are used to provide information and support that helps the couple reach an amicable agreement.
Compared to mediation, the situation is more even because both parties have legal support and advice. It is less costly than litigation. What’s more, couples maintain more control over the outcome than they would if they surrendered their control to the judgment of the courts. The parties and their lawyers work together in open negotiations to find effective solutions.
Because it provides a better opportunity for couples to resolve their issues respectfully, the chance is greater that a relationship can be maintained. This can be particularly important if there are children where co-parenting decisions are involved.
Ian Field is trained in Collaborative Practice. He is part of a growing network of collaborative family lawyers who can offer this low-conflict approach for Queensland couples. James is also a member of the Queensland Collaborative Law Practitioners.