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At Clairs Keeley, we specailise in a range of services to provide you with an individually tailored, holistic solution to all your legal matters. From collaborative law practices, to mediation and family dispute resolution, our Perth law firm has all your essential requirements.

Collaborative Practice

Our family lawyers are trained collaborative lawyers who can work with you, your former partner and a team of professionals to reach an holistic solution without going to court. Collaborative lawyers aim to resolve disputes by removing parties from the litigious and adversarial courtroom setting, and instead treating the process as a “troubleshoot and problem solve” rather than to “fight and win”.

What is collaborative practice?

Collaborative practice is a specific process for helping people resolve their disputes by working together. Our collaboratively trained lawyers sign an agreement as part of a collaborative process not to engage in court proceedings as a way emphasizing their commitment to helping clients reach a respectful and mutually beneficial settlement.

Financial advisers, family counsellors and collaborative lawyers work as a team to help you resolve financial, emotional and legal issues. Our aim is to develop an holistic outcome for the entire family.

Our team meets the couple with a structured agenda, of negotiation for each meeting. If the couple needs specific advice or information from one member of the team, this can occur separately, to save time and money.

What issues can collaboration help with?

In principle, most family law issues can benefit from the collaborative process. This includes negotiating pre-nuptial or cohabitation agreements, deciding where children will live, with whom they will spend time, child support, spousal maintenance, settlement of property and changes to any existing arrangements.

What if my former partner and I do not communicate about difficult topics?

It is common for separated couples to have serious communication problems following the breakdown of their relationship. The collaborative practice team coaches the couple in new ways to communicate with each other about sensitive or highly emotive issues. The team will be present during negotiations to help you through the rough spots, defusing conflict and encouraging positive dialogue.

During collaboration, the parties and team members commit that:

  • negotiations will be principled, dignified and respectful;
  • issues will be resolved without going to court or threatening court action;
  • both parties will exchange all important information;
  • the couple will be assisted in exploring as many options for settlement as possible; and
  • the team will help the couple to reach a settlement that best meets their goals and priorities.

Is collaboration always the best solution when getting divorced?

There is no guarantee that the process will resolve every issue for every couple, although with a commitment to the process, most collaborations are successful. If one person or both people decide not to continue, then both lawyers must resign and no other member of those lawyers’ firms can represent the clients.

How do I get started with a collaborative lawyer?

Once you have decided that collaboration is the right process, you should discuss this option with your ex-partner and a collaborative lawyer at Clairs Keeley. By definition, collaborative negotiation can only take place if both parties agree and engage collaboratively trained lawyers.

At Clairs Keeley, we recognise that family breakdown is more than just a legal issue. We understand that you are dealing with uncertainty about your future, your children’s futures, and your finances, as well as your feelings about the end of your relationship. Our team respects that sometimes all you want is to know your options, and make informed decisions in your own time.

It’s important to us that we listen to you, and help you find the way forward that feels right for you. We know that divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences of your life, and dealing with grief and loss, as well as the financial and legal uncertainty can be draining. Our premium legal advice and working with your accountant, financial planner or counsellor can help you decide and help you shape your future.

Family Dispute Resolution

Family Dispute Resolution is mediation between parents which aims to clarify care arrangements for their children following their separation. The parents meet with a qualified Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP). They discuss and if possible, reach an agreement regarding issues around where the children will live, how much time the children will spend with each parent, and financial support of the children. At the conclusion of the mediation, if parties have not reached an agreement, the FDRP can issue what is called a Section 60I Certificate to the parties. In most cases, before an application regarding children will be accepted by the Family Court, it requires the parties to file a copy of the Section 60I Certificate they have obtained.

Debbie Clinch is a qualified Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. Her experience allows her to conduct Family Dispute Resolution between parents with or without their solicitors. As Debbie is also an accredited mediator, she can mediate for families with both parenting and financial issues to resolve. For more information, telephone Debbie or email her at debbie@clairskeeley.com.au.

Mediation

Mediation is a big part of our practice in Perth, as we recognise that most people want to reach an agreement, rather than have an ongoing dispute. Mediation is one of the most successful ways for people to achieve this, and the Courts recognise mediation by requiring people to try it early. Our lawyers are experienced in advising you about your best alternatives to a negotiated outcome, and your worst alternatives to a negotiated outcome, which is information you need before you attend mediation. If you like, one of our lawyers can attend mediation with you.

Both Penny Keeley and Debbie Clinch are nationally accredited mediators, so if you and your partner decide that you would like a neutral person to facilitate your negotiations, please contact us to make an appointment.

Negotiation

The vast majority of our clients in a dispute wish to negotiate an outcome respectfully. We negotiate from the perspective of our client’s interests, rather than focusing on any legal positions. This approach delivers better and more durable outcomes. We are happy to negotiate with your former spouse or their lawyers to achieve a resolution for you. In any negotiations, we encourage you to think about the financial realities and the emotional consequences of the decisions you are both making. 

Arbitration

Arbitration is another dispute resolution method if you feel you and your former partner cannot agree. Arbitration is appointing a private person to decide the outcome for you. It is a far quicker and more cost-efficient solution than going to Court. We work with experienced arbitrators to set the issues to be determined and tailor the method of arbitration.

When you want a fast decision about your dispute, and mediation has failed or your situation is not suitable for mediation, then arbitration may be the process for you. We can help you prepare for arbitration and identify the right arbitrator for you. 

Litigation

 At Clairs Keeley, we are experienced in representing and advising people involved in Family Court cases (litigation).  People also come to us for second opinions, one off advice, or to have us take over their court cases if they prefer our approach.

We strive to be model advocates, so we are committed to making your case go as quickly as possible through the court system by having your case properly prepared.

We give our clients objective advice about their proposals and the possible outcomes to expect from the Family Court.