What is Collaborative Law?

Not all separations are characterised by conflict. In more recent times there has been a trend towards amicable separation.  Gwyneth Paltrow made famous “conscious uncoupling” when she quoted the term to describe her separation and divorce from her husband Chris Martin.

Conscious uncoupling and amicable separation are not just for the rich and famous.  Collaborative law, also known as collaborative practice and collaborative divorce is becoming more popular in Australia and worldwide.

Collaborative law aims to reduce conflict and stress associated with separation by both parties agreeing to abide by a number of rules, including:

  1. Each spouse is required to engage with a collaboratively trained lawyer.;
  2. Each spouse must agree not to go to court (yes both parties actually sign a contract to say they will not commence court proceedings and that they are committed to reaching a resolution without the court's intervention). This means that parties also cannot threaten court proceedings against each other throughout their negotiations;
  3. There must be a mutual commitment to be respectful towards each other throughout the separation process. This ensures that communication between the parties is amicable which reduces stress for the entire family unit. This also makes it more likely that the parties will be able to maintain a respectful relationship in the future, which is extremely beneficial when they will continue to co-parent children; and
  4. Each spouse must set goals, communicate those goals to each other, and work together in meetings with their lawyers to each attain those goals. By focusing on desired outcomes as opposed to legal entitlements, both parties are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome of their settlement.  The commitment to goal-based negotiation requires that neither party obtain advice on their legal entitlements from their respective lawyers.

Collaborative law is not for everyone.  To start with, you both have to be agreeable to a goals-based approach to settlement, and not seek any advice on legal entitlements. You both have to engage collaborative professionals and the foundations and history of the relationship have to be such that you will be able to attend meetings with each other and be respectful of each other.

Our family lawyers are collaborative law-trained professionals and members of the Queensland Association of Collaborative Practitioners.  If you think that a collaborative approach to separation may be for you, book a free initial appointment with our lawyers to discuss your options.

For more information, we have included a link to a video produced by the Queensland Association of Collaborative Professionals.

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