Collaborative Family Lawyers - What Women (and Men) Want!

10 August 2011

Marriage is a strange phenomenon that happens to human beings. And the best part is, both the unmarried and the married are unhappy, though for radically opposite reasons, one for not being married, and the other for being married.

Why is it that some very experienced Family Law Specialists are steering their clients away from the Family Court System? It is because any compassionate human being involved in the system knows the Court system is not the best way to resolve family differences? Human beings express emotions that result in relationships - or the breakdown of relationships. Applying laws to resolve the breakdown of relationships is like trying to put a cat on lead and take it for a walk - try as hard as you like- it's just not going to happen! 

Most clients dislike the Family Court System because the lawyers are the prime participants in the proceedings and the Judges and the lawyers are often not interested in what a client believes is important. Collaborative Family Lawyers recognize this, and tailor a settlement process to include all issues that the clients believe are important. 

Some lawyers dislike the Family Court System because they know that it cannot deliver "the justice" a client may want to achieve despite it costing a fortune. Collaborative Family Lawyers focus on the process of settlement and offering client-focussed options for settlement within that process. 

When one observes Judges urging litigants to settle their differences outside the courtroom, in preference to the case proceeding, one could even say that Judges dislike the Family Court System as they too know that the people involved are better off working out their own solutions. Collaborative Family Law takes the Judge and the courtroom out of the equation as there is no overbearing higher authority telling the parties to go away and settle. The Collaborative Family Lawyer is involved in the settlement process knowing that all parties and their lawyers have committed to keeping their personal family issues outside of the public courtroom. 

The writing is on the wall, even the Australian Government is considering legislating in order to divert separating couples away from the Family Court System. Earlier this year, the Attorney General requested the Family Law Council, in consultation with the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, to advise how the Government, in partnership with the legal profession, can assist in promoting collaborative law in Australia.  

So, why don't more family lawyers see the signs of client dissatisfaction with the Family Court System and adopt a different approach? This is a call to all family lawyers to stop trying to do things the way they have always done them (through the courts); and to recognize that what separating women and men really want is a process involving each of them and focussing on the family - not a system within a lawyers' court framework.

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