Collaborative family law may make divorce easier for both spouses and for any chidren

Scroll down for our divorce social worker, 'Preserve your assets and relationships with cooler heads' in collaborative law.

Divorce Aid recommends the collaborative approach

Divorce Aid recommends solicitors who practise Collaborative family law, a process by which specially trained lawyers undertake to try to agree your case without going to court. Agreements are still 'rubber stamped' at court as Consent Orders. This could be a dignified way for all the family to resolve divorce finances and children disputes.
Ending your marriage with respect for each other can only be positive for your relatives and friends. Without repsect, there is a lot of negativity and stress with few 'winners.'

As you may have come to realise, divorce can take an immense toll on your family, time and emotions. Financial resources are often sacrificed when they could be put to better use. If agreement cannot be reached, the original solicitors will not proceed to court.

How does collaborative law differ from the normal process?
This new dignified approach allows couples to work as a team with trained professionals in order to resolve disputes with respect for each other and without going to court. You both have the support, protection and guidance of your own lawyer who is able to call in other experts such as child specialists, counsellors, financial specialists or accountants as part of your own divorce team.

Is it like mediation?
No. The collaborative practice proactively guides the couple to reach an agreement and moves forwward the decision making process, the spouses and the lawyers working closely as a team. In mediation, the mediator does not advise or represent the clients and they need to seek advice from their solicitors during the process.

Are there any cost savings?
This is a fairly new process, started here in 2003 but widespread in Canada and USA, but the main savings are seen in the reduction of solicitors' correspondence as most things are done verbally around the table. Paperwork is generally kept to points of agreement and a list of matters to be discussed at the next meeting. As well as reducing legal costs, it also reduces the heartache and antagonism which go hand in hand with marriage breakdown. In many cases, it is not the divorce that does so much harm to families but the way people divorce.

What can I expect at a meeting?
Meetings are held with the two of you and your solicitors so that this is a four-way face to face series of meetings. You will of course both have separate meetings with your own solicitor before the process starts. You are in control and all information is disclosed during this process. This way, there is a much greater chance of achieving a settlement, especially when both parties wish to resolve matters when there are children involved. If agreement is not reached, new lawyers would have to be appointed to progress matters through court.

What are the advantages of Collaborative approach?
It is dignified and non-aggressive
Children's interests can be kept at the forefront
Court costs can be avoided
You may both be able to maintain amicable contact re family, friends and children
You can maintain some control over events with the protection of expert advice
You don't have to let a judge decide on these important matters
Neither of you is out to seek revenge

Is Collaborative law for everyone?
No, it is not for everyone but should be considered. If you would like details of a collaborative family lawyer in your area, please email us using the link below.
Please let us know your name/s with your full/postcode and/or name of your nearest town
Collaborative Family Lawyer

Preserve your assets and relationships with cooler heads
Divorce often comes at the end of a bitter relationship struggle where the parties have hammered each other mercilessly.

As each hammers the other, both seek retribution to redress their view of the other’s wrongdoing. Into the fray is thrown all the belongings, the home and other assets, and then the kids. The battle is all-consuming and consumes all involved. Many lawyers continue to litigate the case until the assets are exhausted, when anything left to fight over has evaporated. The parties, unable to meet their legal bills, next lose their lawyers and are left fighting the fight on their own. The children are often circling the drain at this point, failing miserably at school and have found solace in the arms of friends and sometimes drugs and alcohol. Relationships between children and parents are in tatters.

Parents are cautioned that in the throws of a divorce, they are emotionally vulnerable, and often the predominant emotion is anger. It is easy for an unscrupulous lawyer to intimate that you have a righteous position and then suggest he or she is more than willing to fight your battle and the injustice therein.

Step away from the cliff. Pause and consider. Whose needs are met and addressed if your conflict escalates? While there may be a reasonable need to litigate some disputes, many can settle outside of litigation, particularly when cooler heads prevail and the persons purportedly helping you do not inflame your situation.

Before taking the plunge to litigation or even the threat thereof, consider the multitude of other solutions to reaching a settlement. These include counselling, mediation and collaborative law. All of these strategies take place outside of court and persons who practise these approaches are generally trained to reduce conflict as opposed to inflame it either intentionally or unintentionally. (Divorce Aid promotes resolution solicitors, mediation, counselling and collaboaritve law).

Reading through this very article, you may feel the tone of the words easing. If you do, this experience mirrors the difference you can expect between seeking to resolve matters with a hostile versus conciliatory approach. If you seek vengeance over a settlement, expect the process to be far more expensive and acrimonious. This remains your choice, but at the end of the day, the best revenge is clean living and getting on with your life.

If you let cooler heads prevail, you will likely preserve more of your assets and you children will be spared the scars of parental battles. The marriage may have ended badly. The divorce doesn’t have to.
Read more from Gary Direnfeld, our divorce social worker in his own column on this site

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