All have long experience in working with separating couples and families. They all strongly believe in civilised separation which in 2009 lead them to create MELCA, to provide families with a better option. Their commitment is to keep families out of court.
Meet the Founders
Marguerite Picard LLB BA
Collaborative Lawyer | Mediator | Accredited Family Law Specialist | Agreement Facilitator
Marguerite says ‘Often when I meet a client for the first time, they are quite undecided about whether to take the first steps to separation. It is so easy for lawyers to rush to the conclusion that their job is to move things along a particular path. I am grateful to work closely with non-lawyer professionals who can advise and support clients instead of or before any legal process is begun. Once a client decides to separate, I work in collaborative practice so that they have an opportunity to tell their story, to be met with openness and compassion, and to be supported in understanding and managing their own emotions and conflict with their partner, so they can get to settlement. Legal advice is usually the least important aspect of separation. Helping clients to have their voice, to see a future and ways to get there, is much more what I do, but giving legal information and drawing and advising on legal documents is also a necessary part of my role. I abandoned litigation after many years, and I am completely convinced of the benefits and success for clients that is delivered by our teamwork at MELCA. I wouldn’t work any other way or anywhere else.’
Tricia Peters MBA MPAcc
Financial Planner | Mediator | Collaborative Professional | Superannuation Expert
Tricia is a Certified Financial Planner with qualifications in Accounting and Finance.
She has worked for many years helping people with financial settlements after separation and divorce and has seen the positive difference good financial planning advice can make to people at this difficult time in their life.
“People often don’t know where the money goes and separation highlights any financial problems,” she says. “Sometimes one partner was in charge of the finances and the other feels they don’t have any idea about money. Fear
about financial security is very real for many facing separation. Putting everything on the table gives transparency and information to enable frank discussion about the money.”
Tricia knows that finding the money to pay for the children’s expenses often becomes more difficult when families separate, and has a range of practical tools that she uses with her clients “Working with a couple on family budgeting helps everyone understand what it costs to provide for the children and allows the parents to make joint decisions about what can and can’t be afforded in the future. These discussions can change relationships around money and help improve co-parenting.”
Sometimes couples need to be creative in the way they structure their settlement to maximise their resources. “There can be underlying expenses associated with certain assets, e.g. capital gains tax on an investment property, and knowing how these can be legitimately reduced can be a real benefit when the family’s resources are being divided.”
Superannuation splitting is a complex issue for separating couples and is quite often one of the major assets people have. Tricia is one of only a handful of superannuation splitting experts in Australia. “I’ve been able to help people understand how they can get their superannuation to work better for them.”
Dr Tina Sinclair
Psychologist | Mediator | Collaborative Professional | Communications Expert
Tina is a psychologist, and couples therapist with more than thirty years experience. She has extensive experience in Australia, the UK and Canada, where she has trained and worked as a therapist, mediator and collaborative professional.
Her role as a family professional or communication coach is critical within the team in order to help the clients understand the emotional aspects of separation and ensure that they are putting the needs of their children first.
“Working with the family consultant gives the children a voice at the table,” she confirms. “If we think about the adversarial nature and emotional cost of litigation, then working in Collaboration has to be less damaging. The way we work at MELCA is best practice; we assist the family in all aspects of their transition by seeking long term changes for families and not just legal settlement.”