Collaborative law is a process which gives parties the opportunity to resolve issues arising from the breakdown of a relationship in a dignified and respectful manner and in a way which best meets the particular needs, concerns and interests of the parties and their children. Unlike other methods of dispute resolution, the collaborative law process focuses on exploring what is important to the parties and their children and finding a solution which addresses their needs and priorities in a cooperative environment and without the threat of Court proceedings.
In the collaborative process, the parties agree at the outset not to go to Court or to use the threat of Court as a negotiating tool. The parties and their lawyers will work together in a series of meetings to reach a fair solution to whatever financial or child-related issues need to be addressed, with the needs and interests of the parties and their children at the forefront. Parties in a collaborative process will have access to a range of professionals involved in helping families and in appropriate cases, the skills of child specialists, counselors, accountants and financial advisors can be called upon to assist in the negotiations.
Underpinning the collaborative process is a commitment by both parties to act in good faith and to be open and honest in their dealings with one another including providing an open exchange of information. The process enables everybody’s viewpoints to be heard and discussed and by working cooperatively together, allows parties the best opportunity to preserve a respectful and constructive relationship for the future.
The parties control the timing and outcome of the collaborative process and will be assisted by their lawyers and other professionals to make decisions which work best for them. Resolution through collaboration will most usually be a quicker and less expensive option than litigation and other methods of dispute resolution.
If you are committed to resolving your matter respectfully and amicably, the collaborative law model may be suitable for you. Kim Ford is a trained collaborative lawyer and a member of the collaborative professional community in Sydney and internationally.