Collaborative Family Law

Our Principal, Glenn Thexton is a Nationally Accredited Collaborative Family Lawyer. Collaborative Family Law is a process involving confidential and transparent negotiations rather than adversarial court style dispute resolution.

It is mediation based, which is less formal than court litigation, with the added benefit of the support and advice of lawyers and other third party experts such as psychologists, valuers and accountants. The process is aimed at reaching mutually acceptable negotiated settlements. It is a dispute resolution process in which the parties and their lawyers enter into a contract to resolve a dispute without resorting to litigation.

The contract provides that the lawyers must withdraw from acting on behalf of the parties, if an application for determination of the dispute is made to a Court or Tribunal. The effect of this provision is it focuses all of the participants to the negotiation on reaching a resolution. It also removes the temptation for the parties and their lawyers to overstate their position or withhold information vital to the resolution of the dispute, as can often happen in court battles. When difficult or challenging issues that are hard to resolve arise the parties are not permitted to commence litigation.

The collaborative process forces parties and their lawyers to work together to overcome any difficulties and issues and negotiate a mutually beneficial outcome. The parties, their lawyers, and when required neutral experts, must engage in open, honest and transparent problem solving at meetings. All of the negotiations are conducted in meetings, the process usually takes between four to seven meetings to reach an agreeable conclusion.

The agenda for each meeting is pre-determined by the parties and their lawyers. Between meetings the parties, their lawyers and any other required professionals work together to ensure that all of the information relevant to the agenda is available in advance of the meeting. The lawyers also work with their respective clients to prepare them for each meeting and debrief them afterwards. Similarly, the lawyers consult with each other before the meeting and debrief afterwards.

The primary benefit of the collaborative approach is it places the responsibility for the resolution of the dispute in the hands of the parties and because of this they retain control of their matter in relation to the pace and the cost of the process. Negotiations are private and confidential, and parties are assisted in reaching an agreement that, so far as possible, meets their priorities (e.g. ongoing family or child relationships). The process gives the parties an opportunity to personally understand all the implications of the dispute, the options for resolution, and because of this they are better placed to put the legal issues into context.

We can advise you in relation to whether your situation is suited to the collaborative approach. It is suitable for most clients but an assessment has to be made by an experienced collaborative family lawyer. Generally, the process is not suited to clients with severe mental health issues or in situations involving domestic violence. If it becomes clear during the initial interview that the client, or their former partner, is unsuited to the collaborative process, then our lawyers may suggest other more suitable forms of dispute resolution.

The collaborative approach may not work if: –

– there are any concerns about being in the same room as the former partner, or negotiating with them;

– the level of trust between the parties is so diminished that it would be better to utilise court processes for discovery and production of documents;

– the lack of trust cannot be addressed;

– either party cannot demonstrate empathy for their former partner;

– either party cannot articulate what is important to them, and what they want to achieve; and

– either party has drug/alcohol dependency or other addictive behaviours.

Even if some of the factors listed above exist, our experienced collaborative Family Lawyers may be able to assist. Our lawyers regularly take part in ongoing professional development and have the training and skills to deal with the most complex cases. Our Principal, Glenn Thexton can be contacted on our office number, by email: glenn@familylegal.com.au or direct on his mobile 0410 639 921.

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Family Legal