What is Collaborative Practice?

Collaborative Practice is a successful and tested dispute resolution method designed to assist you to stay in control of your own decisions and out of court.

In Collaborative Practice you and your lawyer make a commitment to negotiate an agreement using a problem-solving approach and away from the courts.

It is a process that is suitable for the resolution of disputes in many areas, including civil and commercial disputes. It is especially suitable for the resolution of both financial and parenting aspects arising from separation and divorce as it focuses on the needs of both parties and their children.

Both parties and their lawyers will sign a Participation Agreement setting out the ground rules for the Collaborative Process and stipulating that if either party commences court proceedings, both collaborative lawyers will be disqualified from representing either party.

The majority of the negotiations will take place at '4 way' or '5 way' face-to-face meetings between both parties and their lawyers. In Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice, a Coach/Facilitator is used to assist parties and their lawyers with communication.

Correspondence between lawyers is kept to a minimum. By being present throughout the negotiations, both parties retain control, the scope for misunderstandings is reduced and you will be assisted in communicating with each other in a non-confrontational way.

In Family Law collaborative lawyers work together to help separating or divorcing parties to make parenting and financial decisions. Other collaborative practitioners, such as Accountants and Counsellors, may be engaged to provide further information and advice.

Similarly, in civil and commercial disputes, your Collaborative Lawyer will work with you, the other lawyer and their client to search out and to negotiate a resolution that is cost effective, lasting and acceptable to all parties.

Collaborative Lawyers are specially trained in client representation, negotiation and problem solving, to help you shape a fair and lasting agreement.

Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice brings lawyers and social workers or psychologists together to work as a team to assist clients to negotiate a resolution to their dispute.

In Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice, the coach/facilitator (usually a social worker or psychologist) works with the two clients to assist them in their communication. Sometimes the coach/facilitator may work with clients together or individually before their first team meeting.

The coach/facilitator attends all meetings and is the team 'leader'. Between '5 way' meetings, the coach/facilitator may work with one or both clients to prepare them for making decisions.

A coach/facilitator assisted collaboration usually reduces the number of '5 way' meetings required to achieve resolution. The coach/facilitator may also work as the child specialist to assist parties in coming to agreement about parenting arrangements.

Financial planners or accountants may also become part of the team in Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice.