At Nicholes Family Lawyers we encourage our clients to make a genuine effort to resolve disputes with their former partner and avoid the need to go to Court. To help them resolve these disputes we recommend clients engage with a range of options, collectively referred to as methods of “Alternative Dispute Resolution.” The most common options for alternative dispute resolution are family dispute resolution, mediation, arbitration and collaboration.
Collaboration has quite distinct features compared to other methods of alternative dispute resolution, for example:
- Most of the negotiations and exchange of information occurs face-to-face as opposed to being via written correspondence. There are also no negotiations between the lawyers in the absence of the parties. This means there is greater transparency to the negotiations and also means parties are more heavily involved in the negotiations.
- Parties agree to provide full disclosure of all relevant documents and details.
- Parties agree to appoint appropriate experts such as child specialists, counsellors, accountants and financial advisors who are neutral.
- Parties, their lawyers and any experts engage to participate in the collaboration execute a contract confirming they will withdraw from representing the parties if the matter cannot be resolved and ends up in Court. This changes the dynamic of the negotiations because both parties are conscious that if the matter does not resolve and they do end up in Court they will both have to spend additional time, money and energy engaging new lawyers and experts.
- Parties have greater control over the process and are able to identify and prioritise issues which are important to them and their family. Ultimately parties have greater ownership of the outcome because it has been achieved as a result of decisions made by them, not decisions made by their lawyers or a Judge.
Collaboration can be effective for resolving disputes in relation to both parenting arrangements and property settlements. If at the end of the collaborative process parties have reached an agreement this can be formalised by obtaining Consent Orders from the Court.
Collaboration is less adversarial in nature. Underpinning the process of Collaboration is an understanding that parties and their lawyers will act in good faith throughout the negotiations and be open and honest in their dealings with each other.
Nicholes Family Lawyers have three senior practitioners who are qualified as Collaborative Practitioners. Our Collaborative Practitioners are available to discuss the benefits offered by the process and whether or not it is suited to you and your situation.