Collaborative Divorce – the interdisciplinary way
Adriana Galimbertie-Rennie (Summers) has extensive knowledge of the Australian model of Collaborative Law. Adriana’s also seen some of what is available in the US, where Collaborative Law first developed 26 years ago and has been involved in training multi-disciplinary teams of Collaborative practitioners as the Italian legal system mandated core components of Collaborative law within their civil system.
She says “Legal systems are about the law, however, individuals seeking to end their relationship experience divorce as an emotional process with legal and financial consequences. Immediately we have a mismatch one that a truly collaborative approach can bridge.”
“ I believe what is practiced in England and Wales is mostly ‘Cooperative Law ‘ – not truly Collaborative. Collaborative practice requires a difference in mindset, practitioners need to move away from a transactional perspective and immerse themselves in a transformational mindset. Those who make this transition change their own lives, not simply their client outcomes… but this requires professionals to feel comfortable with risk, confrontation, failure and trust as raw materials on the path towards a dignified resolution.
In the Australian model, the process is a client led inclusive one, with a full interdisciplinary approach. So the clients agree their professional team, comprised of individual life coaches, their financial planner, their parenting expert – all round the table at various stages with their Collaborative Lawyers. These multi disciplinary meetings are facilitated by a psychologist or therapist experienced in group dynamics and communication issues, so the other specialists in the room are freed up not to carry other burdens but can focus on providing the advice. This dynamic task and process orientated balance promotes a safety net for clients which empowers them to be able to concentrate on the sharing the decision making tasks necessary to end their relationship and legally move on. All of this is safely successfully delivered through professionals. The Australian model, which is not collaborative ‘lite’ leads with an ethos of screening clients in, not screening out! That is why the multi disciplinary team approach is so central to success, and unlike the general perception in the UK, that questions the effectiveness of Collaborative divorce, the Australian experience proves that within a few years, a collaborative team’s client attrition rate can reach zero. That means if we are loosing our clients to the traditional divorce system, we have to look at our own skills set, which is inevitably more stretched in typical lawyer- lawyer only Collaborative divorce services.
Clients value feeling valued. To work effectively, clients and professionals need preparation, debriefing and support, something well understood by the Australians who have a second level support tier by hiring a case manager to interface with professionals and clients outside the team meetings and coordinate the practicalities of preparing the future meetings. No, this isn’t a cheap service and we are all in business so making a profit is essential to ensuring that business. If however, your clients would struggle to afford this way of working you can still take some of the underlying ethos of collaboration and build it into your practice. If you decide it’s time to provide an effective Collaborative service for clients, you’re welcome to contact me to discuss the additional training needed in multi disciplinary work and how to review your fee structure. Isn’t that part of your collaborative positioning anyway?”
suzyMillerCreator of Best Way To Divorce. International Divorce Divorce Strategist and TEDx Speaker.
6th March 2022
5th December 2023
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