family & wills lawyers | business advisory & accountants

What is collaborative law?

Quite simply, this involves collaboration between lawyers, financial planners, accountants and other appropriate advisors with regard to your overall future planning needs, including superannuationestate planningwills and trusts.

As a team, Farrar Gesini Dunn and your chosen advisors then address those needs through the most appropriate mechanisms and make sure proper strategies are developed.

In a straightforward matter it might be as simple as a meeting between you, Farrar Gesini Dunn and your financial advisor. In more complex cases, such as blended family arrangements, it might involve ongoing activity between a team of advisors.

For example, blended families often provide complex challenges with regard to minimising potential conflict that may arise from family provision claims. A collaborative law approach helps ensure that the estate plan is assessed from a variety of perspectives, that all relevant family members are considered and consulted and that they understand the ramifications of decisions relating to the plan. Everybody benefits from an informed position, and the risk of future claims is alleviated.

Regardless of the nature of the matter, the objective is always the same—to allow you to control your estate planning matters with maximum efficiency and minimum worry.

Collaboration is an alternative dispute resolution process that has many advantages.

  • Both clients have skilled legal advisers at every stage of the process. Both lawyers understand how to reach creative settlements. You are never on your own; your lawyer is at your side, explaining issues and helping you to achieve goals by mutual participation and agreement.
  • Both clients will usually spend less money and time using the Collaborative Divorce Process than in other processes, particularly going to Court.
  • Both clients and their lawyers agree in advance to work only toward a settlement acceptable to both clients. Litigation can never be threatened. Neither you nor your partner will be permitted to play games or take advantage of each other.
  • The lawyers share with their clients a financial incentive to make the Collaborative Divorce Process work. The lawyers have not succeeded unless they help you create a win-win solution. They are “out of a job” if the process breaks down.
  • The lawyers are concerned about process as well as outcome.
  • Clients and lawyers work together as members of the settlement team, rather than working against each other as “opposing parties”.

The Collaborative Law Process is about cooperation, not confrontation. It is problem solving with lawyers where you and your spouse try to understand each other.

Collaborative Family Law is conducted by 4 way meetings including both parties and their lawyers. All four-way meetings in the Collaborative Divorce Process generally adopt the same approach:

  • Identify what is important to each member of the separating couple (interests);
  • Identify what questions the separating couple need to answer;
  • Gather information;
  • Create the maximum number of choices;
  • Evaluate options and modify and refine them;
  • Negotiate to an acceptable agreement; and
  • Closure.

The time frame is up to you.

For some couples it may be a very quick process but for others it may take longer. There are many things which affect this including how much information you both currently have, whether you are close to agreement or whether there are many differences to be resolved. You may decide to ‘pause’ the process while other things happen, or you may decide to keep a steady momentum going.

Remember, going to court is a very long process and most cases take over a year. Even traditional negotiation is a lengthy process. By working together as one team you are more likely to make decisions and reach resolution quickly.

Collaboration is a process used to resolve family law disputes. It works for tough cases as well as those that appear easy.
It starts by you and your ex each agreeing not to go to Court. If the Collaborative Process fails (and the stats tell us that this very rarely happens) both lawyers and any other professionals must withdraw. You can still go to Court if that happens.

Collaboration is about finding solutions, not finding more things to fight about. It’s dignified, discrete and allows you to stay in control. We think it is the best option for almost everyone.

Read the Collaborative Law Theory

Importantly you’re not left on your own – each person has their own lawyer who will always be there to fully understand what is important to you and to ensure that is taken into account in the negotiations. This means you can ensure things which are important to you, which may not be taken into account in traditional negotiation or by the Court, are fully aired.

The two lawyers work as a team to help you reach agreement. Creative solutions are always on the table. We can creatively engage experts such as accountants, valuers, psychologists and even divorce coaches to help you get the best outcome.

Any agreement reached via the Collaborative process is binding and enforceable once it has been documented by the lawyers. The agreement is binding to the same extent as a decision made by the Court.

When looking for a collaborative lawyer the most important thing is that they are committed to the process. Training and experience help, but if they don’t understand it and see the benefits then it can be more difficult for the parties. Our lawyers are committed to Collaborative Law and Collaborate regularly with other firms.

In Collaborative Law, each party needs their own lawyer. For the process to work, we need other firms to engage with us in Collaborative Law. Fortunately, we have an established group of other firms who regularly collaborate with us. We can give you the names of people who collaborate and do it well.

To find a collaborative family lawyer in Canberra, Sydney or Melbourne, Contact Us .

If you are in Canberra, and want to know who the other lawyers we regularly collaborate with are, visit the Canberra Collaborative Practice website.