Case Study 1 Meet Katherine

The Problem:

Katherine was in a relationship with her husband for 15 years before she decided to separate.

They have two young children, aged 10 and 12.  The relationship and each party had significant challenges leading up to separation.  Katherine felt suffocated, controlled, and deeply unhappy.  She began to become very teary around the children, and realised that she needed to make a change for the benefit of her and her daughters. She had heard about Collaborative practice, and so approached our firm, in a hope that she could engage in a supported, round table process, to achieve an outcome with respect to the children’s care arrangements, and the property settlement between her and her husband.  While Katherine had forged her own career, she had made sacrifices in the relationship for the benefit of the family.  Her husband who was employed in the medical field worked long hours, and was rewarded for it financially.  He earned a significantly greater income than Katherine.

The Resolve solution:

Step 1: Katherine wanted to achieve an outcome whereby she could build a better co-parenting relationship between her and her husband, where her children could feel supported and well adjusted living in two households; and where she could achieve financial independence and stability despite the breakdown of her relationship.  At the outset, we helped Katherine uncover these factors as her primary goals in the process.  This would then drive all of Katherine’s decision making during the process.

Step 2: We wanted to ensure that Katherine was emotionally supported herself, before embarking on the journey with Resolve.  She had already engaged with a personal counsellor through her employer, which we supported and encouraged her to do throughout this process.

Step 3: We wanted to guide Katherine and her husband into the collaborative process, as well as have an opportunity to engage in family therapy for the purpose of discussing their communication challenges, the children’s care, ground rules for the separation (including as they were continuing to live under the same roof), and a commitment to the collaborative process.  Katherine and her husband attended upon family therapy, individually, then through a number of joint sessions.

Step 4: Katherine wanted to begin to understand what her financial future looked like, so through the Resolve network we engaged her with a financial planner/strategist and mortgage broker, both of whom could support her to understand the finances of her relationship, what opportunities there were for the future, budgeting, children’s expenses and the like.  Katherine participated in a number of sessions, the outcome being that she was informed and empowered with knowledge about her current and future financial position, assisting her to make clear, durable decisions through the process.

Step 5: Prior to the first round table meeting, Katherine met with us to reconsider her goals (now that she was more informed and empowered with information and advice from not only our Resolve team, but the Resolve network).  She left with a clear understanding of what was important to her, what was driving her and what she wanted for her future.  As her lawyers, this insight into Katherine’s goals, worries and concerns, meant that we could negotiate in a way that worked toward achieving them.

Step 6: The negotiation: through a series of round table meetings, involving a family therapist alongside, Katherine was able to negotiate firstly, interim issues that enabled her to move out of the home, be financially secure in that move, and have a durable arrangement in place for the children.  One aspect of the agreement, which required an element of financial creativity, was how pending an agreement being reached, Katherine and her husband could live separately, and each be financially secure.  With the assistance of the financial planner, we were able to apply a balance of income/matrimonial funds to set Katherine up in a temporary rental property, close to her husband and the children’s school, furnished, pending a final agreement being reached. The difficulties between Katherine and her husband’s communication and co-parenting relationship did continue at the outset, and so family therapy was an ongoing necessity, that Katherine valued.

Step 7: the settlement: Katherine and her husband were able to engage in the discovery/valuation process within the round table negotiation process, and at a joint meeting ultimately achieve an outcome which in part achieved Katherine’s goals. Of course, various concessions on the part of both parties were necessary, but Katherine felt confident that she could continue in her part time employment, purchase a new home, have sufficient superannuation (or a plan for building her superannuation to a retirement age level necessary to facilitate her desired lifestyle), and have an agreement with her husband as to how the children’s private school fees, health insurance, and other expenses were paid for month to month, without it being an ongoing point of contention between her and her husband.

Step 8: ensuring Katherine was supported in her journey post separation and post settlement.  We continue to support Katherine in her divorce journey, in particular keeping her connected with the team we built around her who are facilitating her achieving her long term personal goals, both financially and emotionally.  For example, Katherine remains engaged with her financial planner, new accountant, and the family therapist, as these important people continue to have a positive impact on her.

The Outcome:

Katherine achieved an agreement with her husband, outside of the Court process, in a round table, supported environment.  She was empowered financially and emotionally at the beginning of the process, which set her up for ultimate success.  She was able to achieve most of her goals, and work toward maintaining a positive relationship with her spouse for her benefit and the benefit of her children.  In a deeply upsetting time, Katherine was able to reflect on the positive aspects of her separation, feel financially independent and secure, focus on her children’s wellbeing and development, and ultimately Katherine was able to be excited for the future.


Case Study 2 Meet Brenton

The Problem:

Brenton was in a long 25-year marriage that he describes as having been limping along for the last few.

He had three teenage children. Brenton found he spent more time doing longer hours at work managing their large-scale business to avoid the arguments at home.  

Their relationship became tired, and communication was terse, short and bitter. They had lived separate lives for years, not sleeping in the same bed, attending social functions separately and they became “ships in the night”. It wasn’t the life he wanted anymore.  

Brenton wanted to separate from his wife but was ashamed and afraid of how his wife would respond and what that meant for his relationship with his kids. His wife refused to accept it and became more bitter toward him. She started to talk negatively about him in front of the children and told them that “Dad wants to leave you and break up the family”. This made it unbearable at home.  

The Resolve solution:

Brenton needed our support to give him confidence to leave and to do so in a way that he was able to support her and the children to feel confident about her future and retain a good working relationship with her for the benefit of the children.  

We worked with Brenton to explore these outcomes and what was holding him back. Brenton engaged with one of our family therapists and was able to encourage her to attend a few sessions with him where they discussed these issues rationally. They were then able to work through the details for the children and developed a holding pattern to cover the financial and parenting arrangements for the interim while they gave themselves time to deal with the emotional impact. 

During that time, Brenton was actively engaged with us and other advisors we gave to him, to prepare him emotionally for the negotiation journey ahead. We worked with him to understand his goals and what he wanted from his future and what he thought his wife may want and need for a future for herself. We worked on communication tactics and triggers and explored how to deal with conflict in a constructive way. We also discussed decision-making techniques and how to recognise and avoid the biggest mistakes in divorce.

Alongside this we were able to engage with his wife to agree to a negotiation forum that kept us away from court. We prepared the case for negotiation and worked with Brenton around legal strategy to achieve the goals he set out to achieve.

When ready, we engaged in a mediated process with the benefit of a legally trained mediator who was able to support both Brenton and his wife to come to an agreement about the financial property division as well as the longer-term arrangements that they were able to walk away from and be confident about.

The Outcome:

Brenton and his wife are now in a civil coparenting relationship and each of them are living their own independent financial lives. Brenton is part of our Evolve program and tells us how much his life he transformed for the better because of the changes he made to his outlook on life.