Here at FamilyProperty, we make it our business to understand our subscribers and are committed to working with them to ensure that their businesses thrive. We’re proud to shine a light on their diverse journeys. This week, FamilyProperty’s Stefanie Costi sits down for a chat with principal and owner of Family Dispute Resolution WA, Tanya Musgrove.
Stefanie: Thank you for giving up your time to tell the FamilyProperty family about your journey. Were you a family lawyer before you became a family dispute resolution practitioner? When did you start your family dispute resolution practice?
Tanya: Before I became a family dispute resolution practitioner, I was a family lawyer.
When I took some time off to have a baby in 2017, I realised that I wanted to focus my efforts solely on family dispute resolution rather than litigation. I felt that I could help people better that way.
So, I trained to be a family dispute resolution practitioner and started my own practice. I have never looked back as I very much enjoy what I do.
Stefanie: What does an ordinary day in your life as a family dispute resolution practitioner look like?
Tanya: I would say my days are split between days where I am answering enquiries, returning phone calls and emails and doing general administrative tasks and days where I am meeting with clients and running mediation sessions.
As I work on my own, I need to handle all aspects of the business including bookkeeping and administrative tasks so some days are devoted solely to those types of tasks. There are a lot of tasks outside of a mediation session that family dispute resolution practitioners need to manage.
Stefanie: What led you to use FamilyProperty in your practice? What features do you think other family dispute resolution practitioners would benefit from?
Tanya: I am definitely someone who loves new technology. So - when I first saw FamilyProperty - I knew that I needed it in my practice. I loved the way it functioned as it was really unique.
I find that I spend much less time trying to organise client information because the system does it for me. I love that the product automates all kinds of spreadsheets. This is so handy. I used to have a spreadsheet that I utilised for property matters that I had created but I am no Excel expert so it was clunky to use. The spreadsheets I generate now are so professional. They literally take a click of a button and that saves me a lot of time and adds value for clients.
In my practice, I always facilitate disclosure before a property mediation and I love that clients can just upload documents to FamilyProperty. By clicking a button, I download a zip file and a spreadsheet for the other party. When we are in session, all of the documents are attached to specific assets and liabilities so they are easy to find. Plus, I never need to worry about where and how to store all of these documents since they are stored securely and I can access them from any computer or mobile device, if necessary.
I think any family dispute resolution practitioner would really benefit from using FamilyProperty but especially those who work for themselves. It really streamlines the whole process and reduces a lot of the administrative work that I used to have to do for property matters.
Stefanie: What has been the most interesting case you have worked on as a family dispute resolution practitioner?
Tanya: That’s a tricky one. I did work on a case once where I got a call from a man wanting to sort out parenting arrangements with his ex-partner. It transpired that he had children with two different ex-partners and that both ex-partners were in contact with each other.
The first ex-partner agreed to do mediation and then she told the second ex-partner that it was happening. The second ex-partner then got in touch with me wanting to engage in mediation as well with the man. In the end, we had a joint mediation with the man and both ex-partners at the same time (but in separate rooms).
From a practical perspective, it helped us align the contact arrangements for all of the children. But, you could also see that the man was so uncomfortable having to face not one but both of his ex-partners on the same day. It was clear that both women had the same story to tell which really forced him to face his role in the issues we were trying to resolve.
It was fascinating to see it play out. In the end, we came up with an agreement. I do not think it would have worked as well if we had not had everybody there at the same time but it was not without its challenges either.
Stefanie: Tell me about your most memorable case and the one that you found most challenging. What did you learn from each of them? How did they enrich your practice as a family dispute resolution practitioner?
Tanya: I would say the most memorable was also the most challenging. It was a case involving both parenting and property. One of the parents had a substance abuse issue and the child of the relationship was living with the other parent.
The matter was quite challenging because both parties were legally represented and I felt that the lawyer for one of the parties were being fairly unrealistic with their client in terms of expectations. I tried very hard to express the benefits of settling the matter at mediation instead of proceeding to court but they would not hear it and of course, the client went along with what their lawyers said.
It was not my place to give advice even though I felt very strongly that this client was never going to achieve as good a result in court.
Having been a lawyer previously, it is quite challenging to step out of that role in a situation like that and that was a learning experience for me.
Stefanie: What are you looking forward to the most in the next year professionally and personally?
Tanya: I would love to be able to travel overseas again! From a professional perspective, I am starting to work with family dispute resolution graduates completing their practical workplace training. Hopefully, this is something I can do more of as I really love it.
Tanya Musgrove is the principal and owner of Family Dispute Resolution WA. To find out more about Tanya Musgrove or Family Dispute Resolution WA, you can visit www.fdrwa.com.au. You can also find Family Dispute Resolution WA on Instagram at @familydisputeresolutionwa or Facebook here.