Collaborative Law

Q. What is Collaborative Practice?


Collaborative Practice is a new way for you to resolve disputes respectfully – without going to court – while working with trained professionals who are important to all areas of your life. The heart of Collaborative Practice is to offer you and your spouse or partner the support, protection, and guidance of your own lawyers without going to court. Additionally, Collaborative Practice allows you the benefit of child and financial specialists, divorce coaches and other professionals all working together on your team.In Collaborative Practice, core elements form your contractual commitments, which are to:

    • Negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement without having courts decide issues
    • Maintain open communication and information sharing
    • Create shared solutions acknowledging the highest priorities of all

Collaborative practice harnesses the knowledge you have about yourselves, each other and your children, as well as the expertise of a range of professionals, to craft a solution that’s durable and tailored to your specific values, goals and interests. You can read more about it and how it works here.

The principal of our firm, Cassandra Pullos, was instrumental in bringing Collaborative Practice to Australia and is a leader in this country and internationally in Collaborative Practice. Contact us to find out if this could be the process best suited to you and your family.

Q. Will Collaborative Law work for my situation?


Divorce is a sensitive personal matter. No single approach is right for everyone. Many couples do find the no-court process a welcome alternative to the often destructive, uncomfortable aspects of conventional divorce.

If these values are important to you, Collaborative Practice is likely to be a workable option for you:

    • I want to maintain the tone of respect, even when we disagree.
    • I want to prioritise the needs of our children.
    • My needs and those of my spouse require equal consideration, and I will listen objectively.
    • I believe that working creatively and cooperatively solves issues.
    • It is important to reach beyond today’s frustration and pain to plan for the future.
    • I can behave ethically toward my spouse.
    • I choose to maintain control of the divorce process with my spouse, and not relegate it to the courts.

Does this path sound and feel comfortable for you? We suggest that you talk to usabout your situation to help you make the right decision.

Q. What’s the difference between Collaborative Practice and Mediation?


In mediation, an impartial third party (the mediator) assists the negotiations of both parties and tries to help settle your case. However, the mediator cannot give either of you legal advice or be an advocate for either side. If there are lawyers for each of you, they may or may not be present at the mediation sessions, but if they are not present, then you can consult them between mediation sessions. When there’s an agreement, the mediator prepares a draft of the settlement terms for review and editing by both you and your lawyers.

Collaborative Practice allows you both to have lawyers present during the negotiation process to keep settlement as the top priority. The lawyers, who have training similar to mediators, work with their clients and one another to assure a balanced process that’s positive and productive. When there is agreement, a document is drafted by the lawyers, and reviewed and edited by you both until everyone is satisfied.

Both Collaborative Practice and mediation rely on voluntary, free exchange of information and commitment to resolutions respecting everyone’s shared goals. If mediation doesn’t result in a settlement, you may choose to use your counsel in litigation, if this is what you and your lawyer have agreed. In Collaborative Practice, the lawyers and parties sign an agreement aligning everyone’s interests in resolution. It specifically states that the Collaborative attorneys and other professional team members are disqualified from participating in litigation if the Collaborative process ends without reaching an agreement. Your choice of mediation or Collaborative Practice should be made with professional advice.

Q. Is Collaborative Practice a faster way to get a divorce?


Your situation determines how quickly your divorce process proceeds. However, Collaborative Practice can be more direct and efficient. By focusing on problem-solving, instead of blame and grievances, there’s an opportunity to strive for respectful results. Full disclosure and open communications assure that you cover all the issues in a timely manner. And since you settle out of court, there’s no wait for the multiple court dates necessary with conventional divorce.

Q. What is a Collaborative Team?


A Collaborative team is the combination of professionals that you choose to work with to resolve your dispute. It can be simply you and your Collaborative lawyers. In addition to your Collaborative lawyers, you can choose to include a neutral financial professional, divorce coaches, a child specialist or other specialists you and your spouse believe would be helpful. Your “Collaborative team” will guide and support you as problem-solvers, not as adversaries.

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” Thank you once again for being so prompt and responsive at very short notice and for helping me bring this whole matter to (what should be) a not-too-financially-painful resolution…”