Can collaborative law ever really work?

We’re often asked as collaborative lawyers whether, in reality, a couple who are going through a separation or divorce - which is rarely an amicable process - can sit together in the same room and resolve the issues they need to resolve.

We know they can. We’ve seen it happen successfully countless times. But we also understand the reservations people have around sitting down together in a room with their ex to talk about very difficult subjects, such as their children and finances, when their relationship has broken down.

Those reservations are entirely natural. After all, what we see most of the time in the media and elsewhere are couples who can only communicate through lawyers and courts making decisions for warring couples who simply can’t agree.

A different approach

The goal for collaborative law is to facilitate constructive discussions and outcomes you both agree on, with your lawyers alongside you. Instead of leaving it to lawyers and the courts to impose decisions about your family and control your future, you take control of those crucial decisions yourselves, which makes for a far more constructive outcome and paves the way for better relationships in the longer term.  

It also sends a strong message to your children, who - instead of seeing their parents at war - see them working together to create a more positive future for the family.

We’re not saying it’s easy. It isn’t. And it isn’t right for everyone. But it is, with the right mindset and approach, an incredibly powerful process that puts you in control of your future and gives you the support you need to work out, together, what’s best for you and your family.

Why it works

When couples choose to use collaborative law to work out their divorce, they agree to behave in a certain way – with respect, honesty, kindness and patience – to be constructive, open and honest.

They also agree not to do a number of things, such as denigrate or criticise the other person, be sarcastic, make threats or ultimatums, interrupt or speak for the other person.

The couple agree to work within a set of principles – essentially a list of dos and don’ts, which includes agreeing to:

•    Focus on the future, fairness and the interests of any children involved and use these as their goals and guides throughout the process.

•    Work with good faith and integrity, and be transparent with a view to creating a relationship in the future that can be built on trust.

•    Be open and honest, giving the information required, even if it seems contrary to their interests.

•    Stay focused on the underlying things that are important to them both throughout the process.

When people enter into discussions with these things at the forefront, they absolutely can – with guidance from their lawyers (who are 100% committed to keeping things out of court) – reach agreements that both of them are comfortable with.

And the real beauty of the process is that it really can pave the way for a very different, more positive and constructive future for everyone involved.

If you’d like to learn more about collaborative family law and see whether it’s right for you, a family member or friend, use the ‘find a lawyer’ section on our website to find a collaborative family lawyer in your local area. Many of our members offer a free initial consultation.
Brighter Future