Collaborative Practice in New Zealand

29 November 2023

Collaborative Practice is an alternative dispute resolution process used in New Zealand and other countries to help individuals resolve family law issues in a cooperative and non-adversarial manner. Collaborative Practice is designed to reduce the emotional and financial toll of traditional litigation and to promote effective communication between the parties involved.

Here is how Collaborative Practice works in New Zealand:

  1. When you embark on a Collaborative Practice process, you and the other party will be asked to commit to working together with your specifically trained professional advisors, which can include your lawyers and financial experts. One of the defining features of Collaborative Practice is that the threat of “going to court” is removed from negotiations.
  2. The process is client centred. You and the other party will focus on what is important to each of you and your family to move forward. The process is flexible, allowing for creative and tailored solutions.
  3. The Collaborative Practice process takes place in a series of meetings removing the exchange of lawyers’ letters and waiting weeks for a response! During the process, you will be supported to exchange information, consider issues and options, and find common ground for resolution.
  4. Through the scheduled meetings, you have more control over the timing of the process than through the more traditional process of resolving family law disputes.
  5. Collaborative Practice costs less than the court’s processes and is often less costly and more efficient than negotiating through lawyers’ letters or than using other more traditional processes.
  6. Face to face meetings and the ability to address issues directly can reduce animosity and misinterpretation.
  7. Full disclosure of facts and information occurs (just as in any other dispute resolution process). Your professionals can guide you to use that information with a problem-solving approach.
  8. Resolutions are based around the unique interests of you and any children you may have.
  9. The process is designed to create a respectful environment for achieving the best outcomes for you and your family.
  10. Once agreements are reached, they are documented formally and, in the case of property, pursuant to the requirements of the Property (Relationship) Act 1976, to make the arrangements binding.
  11. Collaborative Practice is an effective way to resolve family law issues while preserving or rebuilding relationships and to minimise the negative impact of separation or family law issues on the family members involved.

If you want to find out if Collaborative Practice is a suitable option for your situation, contact Vonja Young.