Collaborative law family law 1900 x 500

Stop! Collaborate and Listen!

Simone Green and Lauren Jones

Russell Kennedy offers a real alternative to Family Court for separating couples

Collaborative Law is a unique method of dispute resolution which has emerged as a beacon of hope for those seeking a more amicable, cost-effective, and timely approach to settling family law disputes. Russell Kennedy Lawyers Family Law Principal, Simone Green, who specialises in collaborative law along with Lawyer, Lauren Jones, shed light on what collaborative law entails and how it differs from mediation.


What is Collaborative Law? 

Collaborative law is a branch of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that stands as a unique method for separated couples to address issues related to parenting, finances, property or any other issue in dispute. It facilitates a safe environment where the voices of both parties are not only heard but actively respected. Unlike the traditional adversarial approach of litigation, collaborative law encourages the cooperation of lawyers and their clients to reach mutually beneficial outcomes where various options are actively explored.

How is Collaborative Law Different to Mediation?

While collaborative law and mediation have some similarities, they differ significantly in the structure of each parties' teams. That is, collaborative law involves each party's solicitor, the parties themselves, and an independent coach. When the need arises, other collaborative trained professionals may be introduced to the process such as child experts or financial neutrals (collaboratively trained accountants or financial planners) to provide information to assist in the parties reaching an informed decision.

The independent coach plays a pivotal role in the collaborative process. They initially meet with both parties to gain a deep understanding of their issues, needs, and concerns. The coach's key role is to assess whether the collaborative approach is suitable for the circumstances; then chairs the meetings with the lawyers and the clients, acting as a go-between between the professionals and the parties when required to keep the discussions on track.

The Collaborative Law Process

The collaborative law process commences with an in-person meeting attended by all parties and their solicitors. During this session, all parties sign a contract outlining the terms of engagement for the collaborative process. Confidentiality is a paramount aspect, much like in mediation. Any documents produced during the collaborative process or offers to settle remain "without prejudice". This means that in the event the issues remain unresolved, neither party can use these documents or offers in later court proceedings. 

Furthermore, parties and their solicitors must sign an agreement that prohibits these lawyers from representing the parties in court proceedings if the matter fails to settle. This ensures that all participants in the collaborative process, including solicitors, are dedicated to assisting the clients in achieving the best non-litigated outcomes.

Duration and Costs

The duration of the collaborative process may vary according to the individual circumstances of the case but typically involves at least 3 to 4 in-person meetings, and possible an additional settlement meeting for the signing of settlement documents.

As for costs, each party is responsible for their individual solicitors' fees, unless otherwise agreed. The costs of the collaborative coach and any other collaborative third parties engaged to assist the parties are generally shared. Compared to commencing court proceedings, the collaborative process is typically quicker and less expensive, offering the added benefit of a negotiated outcome.

How we can help

If you, or someone you know could benefit from exploring the collaborative process to achieve an amicable, time and cost-effective court settlement, Russell Kennedy Lawyers are here to help. Our Family Law Principal, Simone Green has a proven track record of helping clients achieve outstanding settlements through collaborative practice – without even stepping inside the courtroom. With Russell Kennedy’s Family Law team’s expertise and dedication, you can embark on the path to your best possible outcome with confidence.

If you would like to stay up to date with alerts, news and Insights, you can subscribe to our mailing list here.

View related insights


Changes to Family Law Act start on 6 May 2024

6 May 2024

Following an enquiry into the family law system by the Australian Law Reform Commission, Parliament adopted some of the key recommendations with an aim to simplify the Family Law Act (1975) and make i ...

Changes to Family Law Act

Changes to Family Law Act take effect on 6 May 2024

29 Apr 2024

In a 5-part video series, Russell Kennedy Principal, Family law solicitor and Accredited Specialist in Family law, Simone Green, outlines these changes commencing on 6 May 2024.


‘Tis the season to be jolly! (And navigate Christmas between two households!)

1 Dec 2023

Christmas should be a joyous time; however, the reality is that it can often be marred with stress and conflict for separated parents. There is no one size fits all for families for the festive season ...