(PR.co.nz) Most people think of separation or divorce being a painful, costly and drawn out process. Once loving couples often become adversaries in bitter legal disputes over who gets what. The High Court recently acknowledged that the approach taken by lawyers and their clients to separation issues can make it more difficult to reach settlement, resulting in costs and delay that could be avoided.
A group of Christchurch family lawyers is looking to change this. They are training this week in Collaborative Practice. Collaborative Practice is an out of court resolution process. It aims to help a separating couple reach acceptable agreements without the acrimony commonly found in legal negotiations. “It is a better way to achieve fairness without the excessive stress and cost associated with legal proceedings”, says Cameron & Co partner, Angeline Boniface.
The process involves meetings between the parties and their specially trained lawyers. “There is an emphasis throughout the process on what is important to each client, and any children they may have, moving forward. This focus generally produces more satisfying and creative solutions for clients and their families,” explains Selina Trigg, Chair of Collaborative Advocacy NZ. She has been using the process with her own clients for the last 6 years and says, “the process has been used successfully overseas since the 1990s. It is exciting to see it introduced into Canterbury so that its benefits can be accessed by clients there”.
“Collaborative Practice is an effective way of finding the interests that connect people – instead of focusing on what divides them” says Christchurch family lawyer Gerry Deacon. Deacon hails originally from Canada where he first was trained in the process. There, Collaborative Practice was widely adopted resulting in reductions in Court cases. “The collaborative approach can be a transformative process for all involved, where the participants drive the process. For this reason, the results can be more enduring and damage to relationships can be reduced.”
It is important that lawyers who undertake Collaborative Process are specially trained in it. “It’s an entirely new way of thinking about your client’s needs, and the client most definitely comes first” says Boniface. She completed training in Collaborative Practice last year and is pleased to see the process adopted in Christchurch, “The training will provide Canterbury practitioners with valuable insights into this exciting way of sorting out family disputes. With one process, we will be able to achieve ‘win-win’ outcomes covering all aspects of a separation”.
Media Release on 19 September 2018
Selina Trigg, Collaborative Advocacy NZ
Phone: (09) 282 3574