As a lawyer, financial planner and psychologist, MELCA’s founders have spent their careers working with separating couples both in and out of court. Through their many years of experience, it became clear that the cases where the couple settled out of court with the support of a collaborative team had the best results.
Marguerite Picard, Collaborative Lawyer
I see my job as a lawyer differently from the way most of the profession sees its job. I’ve been doing this work for more than three decades now, and as a legacy of that, my aim these days is to be a facilitator and peacemaker. In co-founding MELCA, I made a decision to team up with psychologists and financial planners to help separating couples reach agreements, because I think that’s the best way to approach divorce and separation.
I am an Accredited Specialist Family Lawyer, Collaborative Practitioner, Mediator, Arbitrator and Collaborative Trainer. During my lawyer life, I have worked in criminal law, property and commercial and wills and estates, before specializing in family law some 20 years ago. All of this has been incredibly interesting (for me) and has added to the sum of the lawyer I am today.
There’s lots more I could say about organisations that I’ve been involved with and what I think about me, but I’m sure that’s beside the point for most people. I hope that what we do here at MELCA says it all.
Tricia Peters, Collaborative Financial Planner
As I witnessed the financial turmoil people go through when having a ‘traditional’ divorce, I knew they were not getting the help they needed with the financial planning aspects.
Clients came to me after settlement, worn down by the negotiations with the other side, often without any idea about what their settlement meant for them. Many were shattered about the loss of the future they had dreamed of and planned for, with no picture of what their future would be like. I wanted to do something about this and give everyone the help and guidance they needed when making financial decisions that would affect the rest of their lives.
I couldn’t believe how much money my clients had spent battling it out in the legal system. What I knew was that if they’d had any idea what their total bill would be when they started out, they would have looked for other ways to resolve their financial separation.
Co-founding MELCA was a way to offer clients an experience of separation that maintained the possibility of positive outcomes.
Dr Tina Sinclair, Family Consultant
Psychologists and counsellors are used to helping people at some of the worst times in their lives – and separation and divorce is definitely one of them.
I look to the priorities for our clients. They come to us in differing emotional states, depending on where they are in their separation decision and process. Have they just heard that their partner wants to end it? Or have they been thinking about this for years? Have they just discovered that their partner is having an affair? Or indeed have they themselves met someone else and wish to leave their spouse?
I know that if clients are parents, they are usually very upset and worried for the children. They need information and coaching about how to manage the separation decision with the other parent.
Part of collaborative work is to help people see the other’s point of view. On a practical level, before negotiations, I assist both clients to be emotionally ready to face the other, and to be clear and realistic about what they really need. I help them understand their own emotional system, to find the self-regulation required to be ready for clear communication during negotiations.
Change or loss of family or friend connections are not necessary outcomes of marital breakup. There is however, a much greater risk of this if couples ‘go to war’ with adversarial legal processes. I have been shown over and over during the many decades I have been doing this work, that staying out of court is the best way to navigate the turbulent emotional waters of separation.
For all of the benefits that the family consultant can bring to a family in separation, I co-founded MELCA with my colleagues, bringing to bear my decades of international experience as a therapist, mediator, collaborative practitioner and trainer.