A cooperative approach to separation

by Peter Magee on January 28, 2011

Separating couples looking to avoid the antagonism and costs that comes with litigation are turning to a cooperative approach to resolving their disputes.

Collaborative law is a relative new approach which involves both lawyers and parties all agreeing to attempt to resolve the dispute and avoid courts – except to formalise the final agreement reached.  The approach involves the parties looking at the family, assessing its resources and needs and applying those resources to best meet those needs.  The result is intended to provide a better allocation of resources and a better platform for moving forward in a cooperative way rather than the tradition model of having decisions made in accordance with people’s rights and entitlements.

In order to provide some incentive to push through any points of disagreement, the parties, their lawyers and any other experts that are involved all sign an agreement that they will not take the matter to court or be involved in any court proceedings in relation to the matter.  That means that if the matter is not resolved both parties will need to engage new lawyers and start afresh in the court process.  It is a process that has been described by its sceptics as ‘mediate or perish’.

There are some difficulties or drawbacks to the process, particularly where it is unsuccessful and it is certainly not appropriate for all couples.  In situations where there have been allegations of abuse, domestic violence or a breakdown in trust between the parties which would prevent them from entering into the process in good faith and without fear collaborative law should not be utilised.

We have several lawyers trained as collaborative law practitioners and a network of colleagues in other firms to which we can refer your spouse if a collaborative approach is appropriate.  If you would like to discuss whether or not this approach to resolving your dispute is suitable in your situation, please contact us.

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