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How Does Collaborative Practice Work?

At the start of the process everyone must sign a contract agreeing to honour the four guiding principles of collaborative practice:

  • A pledge not to go to court or to use threats of going to court
  • An honest exchange of information
  • A commitment to finding a solution that takes into account the priorities of both partners
  • An understanding that the lawyers will take no further part in proceedings if the matter cannot be resolved and you need to go to court.

In signing the contract, the partners and their lawyers make a commitment that negotiations will be principled, dignified and respectful. Issues are resolved without the threat of going to court.

The partners and their lawyers then start negotiations in a series of 4 way meetings. Click here.

Expertise of other collaborative professionals

Often, partners can decide to make use of the expertise of other collaboratively-trained professionals.

  • A neutral child specialist can provide insight into the children's concerns and help craft parenting plans.
  • A neutral financial specialist can help gather and explain financial information and create future projections for settlement options.
  • Family consultants can help partners improve communication and manage conflict.
  • In some cases your own accountant or consultant may be asked to give advice or information or participate in the collaborative process.

Greater co-operation between professionals

The collaborative approach allows for a greater degree of co-operation between a range of professionals involved in helping families. Collaborative practice brings together specially trained legal, family and financial experts to assist partners to work toward a separation agreement that is realistic, workable, confidential and meets the interests of all family members. It can help you manage the many aspects of divorce and separation, including legal considerations, emotional turmoil, concerns for the children and financial and property questions. This support will help you feel more in control of the divorce process and be better equipped to begin a new life.

Why can't we go to court?

  • Participants in the collaborative process agree not to go to court. This stops either partner threatening court to try to force their partner to agree to something or to accept a position.
  • The reason that collaborative practice has been successful is that the lawyers are disqualified from acting for the client should collaboration fail. There is no advantage to either lawyer to prolong the dispute. A disqualification agreement underlines the fact that everyone is attempting to achieve settlement without threatening or being threatened by court proceedings when reaching an agreement is difficult.
  • By agreeing at the outset not to go to court, you, your partner and the lawyers are committed to trying to reach an amicable settlement.
  • If settlement is not achieved and the partners or one of them wants to go to court, the lawyers and any other participating professionals must stop acting.

The Collaborative Law Process

Collaborative Divorce - A Safe Place

Collaborative Divorce - A Safe Place

ABC Interview: Nicer Ways To Break Up with Sue Abrahams and Bernie Bolger

Note: Discussion on collaborative practice starts at 16.52