By Michael Hume, Principal at Acclaim Legal & Kelly Batey, Principal at Batey’s Family Lawyers.

Separation and divorce is a major life transition. While it marks the end of one part of your life it is also a trigger for opportunity and growth. As the saying goes – “all dark clouds have a silver lining”.

Divorce does not have to be a totally negative experience. There is another way.

For the most part, people who are separating, just like you, are normal, responsible people. Unfortunately, the fact that they are going through a traumatic, life changing experience that is fraught with emotional upheaval, additional financial pressures and conflict, cause some of these people to act badly.

They experience a sense that they are not in control of their lives. Then there is the knowledge that it may be three or more years before their matter finally gets to a hearing in the family law courts. They are not at their best.
It is too easy to make mistakes that later turn into regrets .

Collaborative Law is an alternative process to the traditional court based divorce process.

It focuses on meeting the family’s needs for the future instead of focusing on blame and revenge for the relationship breakdown.

The essence of the collaborative model is to allow each person to maintain their dignity and at the same time, to contract out of taking the matter to court.

In this setting, the separating couple maintains control. They are not bogged down by court formalities and restrictions such as rules of evidence. The process is underpinned by respect. It allows the separating couple to use a lateral approach to settlement and achieve a more creative and family specific outcome than a court would ever entertain.

The process allows the separating couple to be heard and to express their feelings at the very start of the process. This often is all that is required to get forward focussed settlement negotiations underway.

In short, the collaborative process:
• Encourages separating couples to settle on a creative solution specific to the needs of their family, rather than the more restricted range of outcomes that could be achieved in court.;
• Focuses separating couples on problem solving for the future rather than dealing with blame or revenge.
• It allows the separating couple to maintain a sense of control over their family rather than handing that control to the Judge.
• Highlights the future welfare of the children and protects them from the emotional fall out associated with litigated disputes between parents.

I help couples like Molly and Bernard find creative solutions to their financial and co-parenting circumstances. Solutions that are crafted by them and not the family law courts.

Molly and Bernard didn’t want to go to court but each had different ideas of what justice was and of what they deserved. The collaborative process allowed Molly to say her piece in an informal setting. Fortunately both Molly and Bernard were wise enough to listen to what each other had to say. Very quickly the matter settled on terms that they and their solicitors were happy with. What is most surprising from this true story is that no-one’s rights were compromised. The process was informal, straightforward and respectful. Neither party ‘lost face’ and it was all done without stepping inside the court room.

There was a non-threatening environment throughout the process and each party came away feeling as if they had achieved more than what a court imposed outcome could have delivered.

In the future, your children will be proud and grateful to you for being civil and respectful during this time.

Even though collaborative practice means that you don’t go to court, the settlement you reach is still a legal and binding agreement.

There are now over 150 trained collaborative professionals in NSW. As a collaborative lawyer I have a commitment to the unique practice of the collaborative model.

Phone to discuss collaborative law or email details to us now and feel the difference a reliable advocate delivers: (02) 9744 0722.