What is collaborative practice and how does it actually work?

Collaborative practice is a recognised approach to resolving family law matters without resorting to litigation in Court.

Collaborative practice focuses on achieving an end result that satisfies the particular priorities of the parties and their family, avoiding conflict throughout. It is suitable for both financial and parenting settlements.

The process involves face-to-face meetings with your respective collaborative lawyers, coaches and other experts in order to problem solve the most suitable options for you. This keeps written correspondence to a minimum as advice and negotiations occur in this face-to-face platform.

All parties sign a Participation Agreement, committing to the collaborative practice process and to settling the issues at hand without involving the Court.

Who is involved in the collaborative practice process?

You and your former partner, who will openly share all of the relevant information and be committed to finding the solution which best suits the both of you and any children involved.

Both you and your partner will each have your own separate collaborative lawyers, who will assist you in gathering the necessary information, negotiating, finding options that best meet your priorities and formalising any final agreement.

A collaborative coach is a neutral third party who will act like a mediator and manage the collaborative practice process.

Financial professionals are optional to the process and may be involved to provide clarity on each parties’ finances and held identify and discuss options for future.

Child consultants are also optional to the collaborative process but can assist in engaging with any children involved and working with the parents to find a solution in the children’s best interests.

Why should I choose collaborative practice?

There are many benefits to the collaborative practice approach.

It is focused on staying out of court, avoiding excessive costs and ensuring a timely resolution.  Avoiding litigation can reduce conflict and the associated stress on the parties and their family, in particular on any children.

Collaborative practice assists parties to maintain and develop a respectful relationship after separation which is especially important where there are children involved and an ongoing parenting relationship is required.

Collaborative practice gives the parties control of the outcome, allowing them to decide the solution together rather than handing decisions over to or being bound by the usual practices of the Court.

What if we can’t come to an agreement?

Although unlikely, sometimes parties are unable to reach a final agreement through collaborative practice.  They will still be able to make an application to the Court, with the assistance of alternate lawyers.

Is my matter suited to the collaborative practice approach?

If you and your partner are able to communicate respectfully, consider each other’s needs and priorities and are committed to avoiding litigation, the collaborative approach may work for you.

At WMD Law our Principal, Lisa O’Leary is a qualified collaborative lawyer and an accredited specialist in Family Law.  If you or someone you know is separating and would like to speak to a collaborate lawyer you can contact our Sutherland office at 9525 8688.