Collaborative Practice in Family Law Matters with Coercive Control-type Violence: Preliminary Thoughts from the Practitioner Coalface

Patricia EASTEAL, Jessica Herbert, Jessica Kennedy

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Collaborative practice has been promoted as a method of dispute resolution in family law. It represents a shift away from litigation, towards a formally contracted negotiation process involving lawyers, relevant professionals and their clients. This article is particularly interested in whether collaborative practice might be appropriate in some matters involving the coercive control type of family violence. Overseas and Australian academic literature is examined to learn about the principles and processes of collaborative practice in general and how they apply to matters involving family violence. The article also looks at the experiential-based views of a small, targeted, sample of lawyers. The authors’ findings identify: the importance of screening and suitability criteria; how collaborative practice can be modified to deal most effectively with a power imbalance; and its potential benefits and risks. The authors conclude that with diligent, on-going assessment, management, monitoring and support by lawyers and other professionals trained in both collaborative practice and family violence, it may be a feasible option that could provide the victim with safety and a “voice”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-33
Number of pages21
JournalFamily Law Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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