A LOCAL lawyer has become the first on the Coast to officially test a trend developing in legal circles - dealing with friendly divorces.
Much like actress Gwyneth Paltrow and singer Chris Martin's famous "conscious uncoupling" approach, more people are trying to reach agreement with goodwill instead of animosity - a change that has led to the development of a new branch of law known as collaborate law.
A growing number of Queensland couples are changing the way they separate in an attempt to do away with protracted legal battles and minimise the impact on their children.
Recently 74 Queensland lawyers underwent further training to use the collaborative law approach.
The first Coast-based lawyer to work in the field is Garland Waddington family lawyer Micaela Chomley.
Do you think it's possible to divorce without conflict?
This poll ended on 20 December 2016.
Yes, splitting doesn't mean rational people become monsters
No, but you can avoid most of it
No, conflict will always be the dominating part of divorce
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
She says the adversarial nature of traditional legal processes in a marriage or relationship break-up can be detrimental to ongoing relationships.
"Parental separation disrupts the lives of one in five young Australians, whether that's financially, physically or emotionally," she said.
"Parents may not realise it at the time, but they are writing the story their kids will tell about their childhood. Most people don't want their kids to remember those years for the endless bickering that happened in and out of the courts.
"Couples these days realise they will always be linked by their children ... there is a desire to resolve disputes quickly and smoothly."
In collaborative law, each partner works with a specially trained lawyer and agrees to a collaborative contract that ensures transparency and respectful behaviour.
"We hold four-way meetings in which everyone works together and gives full and frank disclosure in relation to property and discusses what the parties want to achieve," Ms Chomley said.
"We also discuss what is in the child's best interest in order to come to an agreement that both parties are satisfied with.
"The parents are present at all times during negotiations and are empowered to participate in their own negotiations. The clients drive the process."
Ms Chomley said the courts were overwhelmed with cases of matrimonial property settlements and custody of children.
People could wait up to two years for a hearing and then have to wait again for the judgement of the court to be given.
Ms Chomley will host a series of free information seminars on collaborative law in February. Phone 5443 4866 or log on to garlandwaddington.com.au.
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