In most cases, collaborative law is our preferred method of resolving matters in relation to family law matters.
Collaborative law is a process used to resolve family law disputes. We find that Collaboration allows parties to be involved in and control the process in ways that they otherwise would not if the matter went to Court. Collaboration works well for both ‘easy’ cases and ‘tough’ cases, this includes where the other party is difficult to deal with and or where the circumstances of the case are complex.
The process starts by you and your former partner agreeing not to go to Court. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean that you like each other or that you are able to get along, it does mean that you both recognise that Court is damaging for families and you want a process which leaves you and your family better off, rather than feeling further apart.
In Collaborative Law, each party needs their own lawyer. For the process to work, we need other firms to engage with us in Collaborative Law. Fortunately, we have an established group of other firms who regularly collaborate with us. We can give you the names of people in Melbourne, or elsewhere, who collaborate and do it well.
It is a dignified and confidential process, in which your private matters are not aired in open Court and where the parties all agree not to disclose confidential matters.
If the process fails (and the statistics as well as our experience tell us that very few do fail), both parties’ lawyers and other professionals who are involved in the process can no longer act for the parties.
Collaboration is a process in which the focus is on your interests (what is important to you) not necessarily only on what your legal rights are, or just what the law says is ‘fair’ (which is often very uncertain and doesn’t necessarily match up to what you think is fair).
Importantly, in the process you are not left on your own. Each party has their own lawyer who is there to understand fully what is important to you and to ensure that is taken into account in the negotiations including those things that a Court would not consider. Eg., how can I try to ensure that the children will not have to switch schools as a result of a property settlement and having to sell the matrimonial home).
The two lawyers work as a team, along with other relevant professionals when appropriate, such as accountants, financial planners, child psychologists and coaches.
Collaboration is generally more cost effective and faster than litigation. And in Collaboration, it is often the case that one of the preliminary matters that need to be dealt with is how the parties pay for the process. This often means that instead of one party having the incentive to delay matters and ‘run up’ the legal costs for the other party, that incentive is removed.
Although it is not possible to issue subpoenas in a Collaboration, there are other ways to gather information, including having the other party sign an authority which authorises you to ask questions and get information directly from professionals or institutions.
Any agreement reached via the Collaborative process is binding and enforceable, this includes agreements in relation to children if the parties decide that the agreement should be formalised.