Last week the Queensland District Court fined The Courier Mail $120,000 for illegally publishing the names and photos of a mother and her four Italian daughters who were involved in Family Court proceedings.

You might remember the custody case of the four Italian sisters. Or as it became, thanks to publications like The Courier Mail, their story. I clearly recall watching the footage of the four sisters being literally dragged away from their mother by members of the AFP, kicking and screaming, into a police car. And all I could think about watching that footage was “we shouldn’t be seeing this”. This was a private matter being played out in an oh too public domain.

We talk a lot around this office about the many pits and downfalls of litigation in family law. It’s expensive, it’s lengthy, it damages relationships (sometimes irretrievably). One of the other downfalls this case has really had me thinking about is that family law litigation has the effect of taking a very private matter and making it public.

Since joining the Farrar Gesini Dunn team just over a month ago I’ve been learning a lot about Collaborative Law – a process where separating couples and their lawyers work together to resolve their family law dispute without going to court. Collaborative Law offers separating couples creativity and control over how their dispute is resolved, and in what terms, as well as total privacy in doing so. No court documents are filed, witness statements aren’t required, and no one but the people directly involved are responsible for making the decisions. That can only be a good thing.

Leila Kirsch