Collaborative law: Could it work for your divorce?

by Peter Magee on March 28, 2011

Peter MageeSeveral of our family lawyers have recently completed collaborative law training, with the rest of the Armstrong Legal family lawyers to be trained within the next few months.

Collaborative law is a new method for resolving disputes.  It is not litigation, nor is it mediation.  Rather, collaborative law involves each party having their own lawyer and the two clients and two lawyers agreeing to work together, not against each other, in order to negotiate an agreement without going to court.

The collaborative process involves a series of four-way meetings, between both parties and their lawyers.  It can also involve the input of other professionals, such as mental health professionals, child specialists and financial specialists.  These professionals assist both parties.

In the collaborative process, your role as a client is more active than in litigation.  At the meetings, you will be able to have input into resolving the dispute, with everyone involved working towards solutions to the various issues arising from the relationship breakdown.  You may be given tasks to follow up in order to facilitate the next meeting.  This process allows more control and involvement in designing an outcome which is suitable to both parties.

Another benefit of collaborative law is that it minimises hostility and conflict between you and your ex partner.  Also collaborative law may be particularly useful if you’re looking for a creative or flexible solution that a court could not normally award.  There may be some potential for cost saving, as a collaborative settlement usually costs substantially less than litigating in court.

However, if the collaborative process fails and you end up proceeding to litigation, there will be an increased cost above the normal litigation process.  That is because, if you end up going to court, both parties’ lawyers must withdraw from the entire process and you must obtain new lawyers.

Collaborative law is not suitable in all situations, such as when there is a high level of conflict.  You must consider whether or not you and your ex partner would be able to participate in face to face four-way meetings.

If collaborative law appeals to you, or you would like more information about it, please contact us at Armstrong Legal on (02) 9261 4555.  All our family lawyers are either trained or soon to be trained in the collaborative process and Senior Lawyer Elizabeth Rusiti is a member of the Central Sydney Collaborative Forum.

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