Reaching Fair Agreements
Collaborative Family Law is a way of resolving the difficult legal and financial issues that arise from separation without going to court. It is about cooperation, not confrontation. It aims to meet the real needs and interests of both spouses – and avoid court. It fosters positive post-separation relationships – especially important when there are children.
Collaboration practice recognises that separation is not just a legal process but also a psychological process. Collaborative practice aims to meet the legal, financial and emotional needs of the entire family and achieve the best possible outcomes for spouses and children.
Interdisciplinary collaborative practice allows for the involvement of neutral financial and mental health collaborative practitioners. Counsellors or psychologists known as divorce coaches can help spouses deal with the emotional effects of separation and suggest effective communication techniques. This can assist spouses in negotiating agreements without unnecessary conflict and to establish post separation modes of communication about children and other long term issues. A child counsellor or psychologist can help parents consider age-appropriate parenting arrangements – including speaking with the children to assist them in dealing with the separation. A neutral financial expert can help spouses identify a range of options to best meet their financial needs.
Both spouses must instruct lawyers who are trained and accredited as Collaborative Practitioners.
A series of group meetings of spouses and lawyers is held. The exact number and length will vary.
Generally, the location of each meeting alternates between the offices of the lawyers. Meetings normally take between one to two hours. Discussions and negotiations occur primarily at the four way meetings to encourage trust and avoid misunderstanding. There is contact between spouses and their respective lawyers in between meetings in order to obtain relevant information and plan for the next meeting, as well as checking settlement documents. As a result, meetings generally occur around two weeks apart.
Matthew Shepherd is a member of Collaborative Professionals NSW. He is a member of the Relationships Australia Collaborative Practice Group, and Collaborative Professionals NSW, and has taught Collaborative Law at the University of Technology Sydney.
Matthew can explain the Collaborative process in more detail and help you decide if it is the best process for you to solve your family law issues. Call Matthew on 98770877.