The collaborative process is a shared commitment by both parties to resolve a dispute without resorting to court action. It focuses on the future.
The process consists of a series of informal discussions and joint meetings with a view to settling all issues amicably. The parties, their lawyers and any other required professional advisors such as communication experts and financial experts (“the collaborative team”) commit to resolving the issues in dispute without going to court.
The premise of the collaborative team is that the parties and their chosen professionals act as a problem solving team rather than adversaries. Parties and their advisors are expected to show respect, compassion, understanding and act co-operatively during the process.
The focus is on the parties identifying what is important to them rather than positional bargaining. An important aspect is that at the beginning of the collaborative process the parties and their lawyers are required to sign a contract to the effect that if their dispute is not resolved and one of them chooses to take the matter to court then each party must retain new lawyers.
The collaborative process is likely to bring about an earlier resolution than litigation. Because it is a `bespoke service’ it is more expensive than mediation but likely to be more cost effective than litigation as the parties themselves direct the process and its progress. This means there is a vastly reduced prospect of any later recrimination or lingering ill will between the parties after the matter is finished.
The process offers value for money as it offers a high level of support which in turn often results in a better quality outcome for both parties that a court cannot provide. The process can also continue for as long as necessary for both parties to have the outcome they want. However, the longer the process the more expensive it will be.
The Benefits of the Collaborative Process
- Is able to resolve a family law dispute without destroying a business or business interests.
- Is able to resolve a family law dispute without destroying a family and family relations.
- Is a private process that enables parties to deal with sensitive issues rather than airing them in an open court.
- Parties can set their own time frame within which to settle their dispute.
- It provides the best opportunity to craft a division of matrimonial assets that is best suited to the interests and needs of each party (and the children where necessary).
- It will spare children (and the parties) from the emotional damage that litigation can cause.
The Collaborative Process will not suit those people who:
- Are angry and want to seek revenge against their former partner/spouse;
- Believe this process will enable them to pressure their former spouse/partner to agree to what they want;
- Wish to avoid giving certain financial information to their former spouse/partner; or
- Are looking for a `soft’ option.
Wendy Miller and Caitlin Wilson are trained collaborative lawyers. This means they have been trained in non-confrontational negotiation and interest based negotiation to help keep discussions productive.
They can provide further information to those people interested in this process.