How can I get a Collaborative case started?

Contact a trained Collaborative Professional. You can search for a Collaborative Professional here. The professional will be able to assess whether Collaborative Practice is suitable for your situation and will be able to advise you about all your options and how the process works.

My lawyer says she is collaborative. Can any lawyer offer me Collaborative Practice?

No. While most professionals often describe the way they work as being collaborative or collegial, they may not be trained and experienced in Collaborative Practice which is a specific, out of court, dispute resolution process. You should ask your lawyer or other professional if they are trained in Collaborative Practice.

Why would I choose Collaborative Practice?

Collaborative Practice may be for you if:

  • you want to avoid the costs and animosity associated with Court proceedings;
  • you want to resolve issues in a diginified, non acrimonious way;
  • you want an efficient way of resolving your dispute;
  • you want your family to maintain control over decisions about its future, rather than having those decisions made by a third party;
  • you want to be able to make decisions with the benefit of advice and support from suitable experts;
  • you value confidentiality and privacy;
  • you have children and you want to prioritise their future needs and interests; and/or
  • you may have a future, ongoing relationship with the other person which you want to avoid harming.

My ex and I do not get along at all. Will the Collaborative Process be able to help us?

Disputes inevitably involve a level of conflict, high emotion and stress. This needn’t mean Collaborative Process won’t be able to help you.

Your Collaborative Professional is trained in screening your situation to assess whether it is suitable for Collaborative Practice. If he or she thinks it is not suitable, your professional will be able to advise you about other suitable options. One of the advantages of Collaborative Practice is it can assist to de-escalate conflict and the harmful effects of it upon you and your children.

Your collaborative professionals will help you focus on keeping discussions productive and are trained in engendering non confrontational negotiation. Different views will need to be expressed in order to reach an agreement but you will be supported to do this in a fair, honest and respectful way.

Does it cost more than going to Court or other options?

No. Collaborative Practice needn’t cost more than other dispute resolution options and most importantly, you are involved in the process every step of the way so you can see the actual work happening and how your costs are being incurred and make decisions about this. How the costs of the process are to be met can be discussed at the first collaborative meeting. If you each provide information in a timely way and cooperate in the process, it will likely be cheaper and quicker than working your way through the Court process.

All professionals charge for their services at different rates. Your Collaborative Professional will explain how they charge and provide you with terms of engagement. Ask your Collaborative Professional to explain how the costs of Collaborative Practice compare with the likely costs of litigation.

I am worried that the other person isn’t going to be open with all the necessary information about our finances. Will that be able to happen in Collaborative Practice?

No. Both of you will need to commit to and sign an agreement which says you will provide full information in an open and transparent way. If you are trying to resolve relationship property issues or do a pre nuptial agreement, the same law and the same requirement for disclosure applies when you use Collaborative Practice as it would using other options.

If you reach agreement using Collaborative Practice and later discover the other party has not disclosed relevant information, then the situation is no different from any other negotiated agreement reached using other dispute resolution processes. If the information would’ve altered the outcome of the agreement, it would be open to you to seek to overturn the agreement.

Collaborative Practice will not be suitable for you if you are hoping to avoid giving full disclosure of your finances or if you are wanting to “out manoeuvre” the other party.

How can Collaborative Practice help me move forward in my future?

If you are separating, Collaborative Practice helps your family transition to the next stage of your family lives as smoothly as possible. If you have children, the process focuses on them and their future as a priority. Any agreement reflects your priorities as a family and is more likely to be realistic and lasting. By being a process that fosters dignity and respect, Collaborative Practice avoids some of the more damaging effects that families often encounter with litigation and the benefits of this will be invaluable long after the process is finished. You will also have a strong template for solving problems that may arise in the future.

If you are not separating and are having an ongoing relationship with each other, Collaborative Practice supports this and can assist you to create a better foundation to together move into the future upon.

This isn’t “real law”, is it?

Yes it is. The law applies to Collaborative Practice cases just as it does to cases resolved in Court or in mediation. You have your legal advisors on your Collaborative team to advise you about the legal implications of options you are considering. One benefit of Collaborative Practice is that your professionals are trained to help you identify and explore a wider range of solutions and outcomes that focus on your interests, rather than the narrower range of considerations that can occur with a more traditional legal analysis of your situation.

I am really worried that if we don’t reach an agreement at Collaborative Practice, we then have the time and expense of getting new legal representatives, don’t we?

It is correct that in the uncommon event that you do not reach agreement using Collaborative Practice, you cannot use your collaborative lawyers for any future litigation. However, in such cases the use of Collaborative Practice usually has allowed you to agree on a number of issues which means there will be less issues that require resolution by the Court.

I understand that other professionals get involved in Collaborative Practice cases. Is this necessary? Doesn’t it get a bit costly?

Not every family will need other professionals to be involved, aside from their legal advisors. However, when the need for input from another professional arises, your collaborative trained lawyers will be able to recommend professionals who are experienced and skilled in their fields and who are committed to the Collaborative way of resolving issues.

The process is flexible and how an expert is used is decided and agreed upon by you.

It can often work out cheaper to engage these professionals early on as their input can help you reach informed decisions about how to resolve matters. Furthermore, you usually will jointly engage the professional which will be cheaper than each of you engaging an expert which often happens with other dispute resolution processes.

How quickly can things get resolved using Collaborative Practice?

The great thing about Collaborative Practice is that the time your matter takes to resolve is largely in your hands. Collaborative Practice can be more efficient than other processes. You, the other party and your advisors schedule meetings to suit the commitments you all have and also having consideration to where you and the other party are at emotionally. You don’t have the time delays that can occur when lawyers simply try to resolve matters by exchanging letters. Conventional litigation often involves a number of Court appearances which can be delayed by any backlogs the Court may experience.

How does Collaborative Practice differ from going to Court?

Collaborative Practice is non adversarial and non litigious. Going to court to resolve your family’s issues can result in your seeing one another as adversaries pitted against one another. This conflict can be emotionally and financially stressful for you and your children. You also run the risk that you lose control over the outcome as a Judge may end up deciding what is to happen for you, your family and your finances.

Collaborative Practice empowers you to negotiate in good faith and to achieve an outcome that is mutually agreed upon. It allows you to address emotional issues, focus on your children’s wellbeing and avoid the potentially damaging emotional fallout of litigation.