The Collaborative Practice approach in family law helps couples going through a relationship breakdown to resolve their disputes in a round table way and without the need to issue court proceedings.
Through a Collaboration Agreement, both parties commit to:
Agreeing what's best for their family together, instead of allowing a judge to decide for them
Identifying issues in dispute for resolution
Voluntarily sharing relevant information
Exploring interests and concerns
Developing resolution options
Negotiating a mutually acceptable outcome in good faith
Each party is represented by their own trained Collaborative lawyer. Lawyers trained in Collaborative Practice family law provide legal advice that takes the interests of their client and former partner into consideration. The legal representatives work together in collaborative way to assist you to achieve a lasting outcome for yourself and your family.
Collaborative Practice is reflective of a general trend towards alternative dispute resolution, which also includes mediation and arbitration.
Collaboratively trained family and child specialists are engaged and involved in the settlement meetings and discussions. They assist the parties to identify and manage the emotions that can sometimes get in the way of communication and decision making. They also assist both parties to explore ways to work together towards meeting the children’s short and long term needs.
A ‘neutral' financial specialist can also be engaged and involved in the process to provide unbiased financial advice to both parties. They can create an asset register and develop projections so that both sides can plan for the future.
An agreement reached using Collaborative Practice can be recorded by way of Consent Order to be filed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court, making the agreement binding and enforceable between the parties.
Why Choose Collaborative Practice?
You control the outcome
Collaborative lawyers work towards settlement without the need for Court intervention
Long, difficult, and often expensive court proceedings can be avoided
The focus is on problem solving and finding respectful resolutions as well as protecting the wellbeing and needs of the children
Parties receive support from the Collaborative team
Parties’ dignity and privacy is preserved
Swan Family Lawyers can help
Christopher Swan is an accredited family law specialist and a founding member of the Adelaide Collaborative Practice Group. He is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), has undertaken extensive training in Collaborative Practice and is certified by the IACP as trainer of Collaborative Professionals. He is committed to helping clients resolve their disputes by reducing hostility, conflict and damage to their family.
Take the next step
Talk to one of our friendly lawyers about Collaborative divorce in Adelaide, and how Collaborative Practice can be utilised in your matter. Please make an appointment to meet Christopher. He can help you encourage your spouse or former partner to meet with a trained Collaborative lawyer. For a list of Collaborative professionals please ask us or visit the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals website www.collaborativepractice.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Collaborative Practice in family law?
Collaborative Practice is an alternative dispute resolution process in family law. Collaborative Practice involves a written commitment between clients and their lawyer to work together, Collaboratively, to negotiate a settlement without court intervention.
Parties control the process and make decisions, supported by their own Collaborative lawyer. In addition to legal professionals, clients also have access to Collaboratively trained specialists such as mental health professionals, child consultants and financial advisors to assist in negotiations.
Negotiations are based on the couples’ interests, priorities and needs, not driven by legal entitlements.
Why is Collaborative Practice better?
The breakdown of any relationship is going to be difficult.
Collaborative Practice provides opportunity for separating couples to preserve dignity and promote empathy between each other. You can reach a reasonable solution that’s based on your values whilst addressing both your needs and concerns and those of your partner.
From the outset you and your partner agree to be part of a respectful process to reach an agreement, outside of court.
Collaborative Practice avoids going to court, with your Collaboratively trained lawyer to ensure any agreement is recorded as a legal agreement. The Collaborative team will provide advice on all matters such as child custody and support, financial and property settlements.
Other advantages are:
You and your partner control the process and make the final decisions.
Financial costs are less expensive than litigation.
Emotional costs are lower as you agree on a respectful process.
You and your partner can determine the timetable rather than waiting for a Judge to decide.
Is Collaborative divorce more expensive?
The objective of engaging a Collaborative lawyer is to work with your partner and their Collaborative lawyer towards a settlement without the need for Court intervention, and thus hopefully avoiding long, difficult, and often expensive court proceedings.
Collaborative Practice lawyers and consultants can help you plan post-divorce expenses, with the aim of trying to save you money in the long term and provide other support such as coaching to help with parenting plans.
Every case is unique. The cost will vary from couple to couple, however the cost of divorce extends beyond a financial one, to emotional costs, and time spent with any divorce proceeding. Provided you and your partner are willing to act in good faith to work together, Collaborative Practice can help reduce all costs to reach agreement in an efficient manner.
Is there a difference between Collaborative Practice and mediation?
Both Collaborative Practice and mediation share the aim of being less adversarial, more efficient, less expensive and faster than the litigation process. The key difference between Collaborative Practice and mediation is the active participation of a Collaborative team of professionals to work with the parties.
Collaborative Practice lawyers remain the advocates of their clients and represent one party to ensure their interests are addressed in the final agreement.
Mediation offers a neutral third party that works with both partners to facilitate the negotiation. The mediator cannot offer legal advice.
Why don’t more people use Collaborative Practice?
Collaborative Practice for divorce may not be the best approach for everyone. It’s particularly well suited to couples that want to remain amicable, particularly for the sake of children. Both parties need to be able to empathise with the other and have a willingness to set their differences aside and cooperate.
There is a high likelihood of challenges when negotiating any agreements if there are factors involved such as animosity, distrust, if the clients have psychological or personality disorders, or if the couple is separating because of physical or mental abuse.
You and your partner both need to communicate well, if you’re unable to achieve this, court may be a better place to resolve your dispute.
There are instances where Collaborative Practice provide barriers to a successful negotiation in the short term:
Should the Collaborative approach fail, you will need to start again, potentially incurring further expense with delay
Your lawyer can no longer represent you should Collaborative Practice fail and you need to use litigation to resolve your dispute.