On Friday 23 and Saturday 24 August, our Senior Associate Kate Bell joined a group of committed and experienced professionals undertaking the Relationships Australia NSW course in Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice. Participants included lawyers, counsellors and other legal practitioners interested in a different, more holistic approach to assisting their clients through the emotional and sensitive process of separation.
The process of interdisciplinary collaborative practice is a dynamic and responsive model which provides a process for separation that encourages the minimum of conflict.
The process is client led and focussed on the needs and interests of the parties involved as opposed to the traditional positional form of negotiation. Working collaboratively encourages a more transparent and respectful dialogue between separating parties which can ultimately lead to more satisfying outcomes.
Collaborative practice involves the parties working together with collaboratively trained legal advisers aided by accredited professionals providing emotional and financial guidance throughout the process.
A collaboration commonly involves the two parties to the relationship, their legal advisers, a financial adviser and a psychologist to provide the parties with support to navigate their relationship, communication, financial and parenting issues. The collaboration may be led by a Collaboration Coach whose role is to guide the participants through the process and ensure timely progress in a cooperative and respectful manner. The end result of collaboration is often the same or similar to that which is achieved by traditional negotiation or litigation however it is far less stressful, costly and aims to empower the parties for their life beyond separation.
As opposed to traditional family law negotiations where the focus is oppositional, in collaboration, the focus is on all participants working together in a team to enable the parties to achieve positive outcomes specifically tailored to their set of circumstances.
All families are unique. The collaborative process provides a safe space in which parties can explore a range of possible outcomes and scenarios that might be suitable for them before finally deciding on a particular way forward. Parties can be creative in investigating potential outcomes as the collaborative framework encourages parties to delve into where their interests and values lie after separation and how these can be satisfied. One party might be concerned about their future financial security, another party may worry about the parties’ relationships with the children. The collaborative process enables the parties to articulate these concerns to the “team” and work together to reach an outcome that fits their family.
Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice provides a positive option to separating couples to be the author of their own settlement. Kate is excited to be able to bring the skills acquired during her training to encourage clients, where appropriate, to explore a collaborative approach to settlement to achieve the “best” separation possible for all members of the family.