How can you end your marriage or relationship constructively and without going to court?
It’s a fact of life. Around forty percent of Australian marriages and long-term relationships will end in divorce or separation.
When you finally decide to go your separate ways, you have a choice. You can take sides against each other, watch things turn nasty and potentially end up in an expensive and bitter legal journey.
Or you can choose to resolve your differences and disputes mutually and respectfully. We call it “Breaking Up Together”.
Breaking Up Together is not for everyone. But if you and your ex-partner have some common ground and are willing to be guided through the separation process by skilled and experienced professionals, then it could just turn what might have been an expensive legal battle, into a process controlled by you and leading to a shared decision for you both.
It works like this. First, both you and your partner have to agree that the collaborative process is right for you. It works best in situations where you can’t reach an agreement between yourselves and need guidance about children, property and finances. It won’t work in situations where you’re at each other’s throats or threats are involved.
Collaborative divorce and separation is a formal and recognised legal process which keeps matters in your hands, and out of the courts.
It is not mediation or counselling.
You both have your own lawyers, and usually also a counsellor and financial expert, assisting you. All participants sign a formal document called the Participation Agreement. This sets out the ground rules and confirms that you agree not to begin court proceedings. If the collaborative process doesn’t work (this is not usual) and you later end up in court, then both collaborative lawyers are disqualified from being able to represent you.
Once the ground rules have been set, the collaborative process starts. You and your partner are supported by your collaborative team who are present at discussions and negotiations. The tone of these meetings is open, honest and constructive as you work towards mutually acceptable decisions.
The strength of the collaborative route is that you own the process. You are always in control, can make your own decisions and avoid them being imposed by the court. It also means you’ll avoid the drawn out and expensive route of taking matters to court.
We don’t mean to imply the process is cheap – as with any divorce, the cost is dependent on the complexity of your case, and your ability to negotiate and make agreements together. The aim is to significantly reduce the emotional trauma, and create an environment where the financial cost can be minimised through healthy discussion and negotiation.
Breaking Up Together is not for everyone. If you believe you can easily reach a separation agreement between yourselves, you may not need our services.
If you’re in a situation where there is threatening or abusive behaviour, then collaboration is unlikely to work.
If you are both unable to agree, but have some common ground and are willing to approach things in a respectful, courteous and constructive manner, then the collaborative process is ideal.
For people in Western Australia, we’ve made it easy to start the ball rolling (if you’re not from WA, google ‘collaborative family law’ in your state). The first step is to invite yourself – and your partner – to a free 30 minute information session with a trained Collaborative professional who will discuss your options, help you decide if the collaborative process is right for you and help you take the next steps together.
Of course, both you and your partner need to attend the session together.
So first, you need to invite your partner to the session.
Once your partner has agreed to a meeting, you’ll both receive details on how to book your free consultation with a collaborative professional.