People

Collette McFawn

Partner & Practice Group Leader
Family & Relationship Law

Collette is a partner and the National Practice Group Leader of Lander & Rogers' Family & Relationship Law group, and one of Australia's most respected family lawyers. An accredited family law specialist, Collette has worked solely in the family law jurisdiction for almost 20 years and is consistently recognised by the profession as one of Australia's preeminent family & divorce lawyers.

As a client of Collette, you will experience a service that is both highly professional and personal. Known for her technical expertise and pragmatic approach, Collette ensures her clients’ priorities are understood as she guides them through what can be a challenging and emotional time. Collette’s years of experience in family law enable her to tailor her advice and offer strategic solutions aligned with the needs of the families she looks after.

Prior to joining Lander & Rogers Collette served as the associate to a judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (as it then was) and later worked at a prominent Sydney-based family law firm. In her earlier career, Collette held a senior management position in Audit & Risk Management with a publicly listed company which, coupled with her specialist family law experience, gives her a unique understanding and perspective in matters featuring commercial elements. Her background and experience have led to an extensive and loyal referral base of financial service providers, accountants and therapeutic professionals, with whom she regularly collaborates for the mutual benefit of her clients. Collette is regularly nominated for industry awards and is recognised in national publications as one of a select number of leading Australian family law practitioners. She was named a finalist in the 2018 and 2019 Lawyer’s Weekly Partner of the Year Awards and was ranked as a preeminent family lawyer in all the individual lawyer categories of the 2022-2024 editions of the national peer-reviewed Doyles Guide.

In her role as National Practice Group Leader, Collette guides a team of over 100 family lawyers and legal support professionals based in the firm's Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney offices. Collette is renowned for her solutions-focused approach to resolving family law disputes and she inspires the same behaviours in the team she leads.

Experience

Collette works across the spectrum of family & relationship law matters, most notably in:

  • high-value and complex financial settlements, maintenance and child support cases where there is often overlap with corporate and trust structuring/restructuring following the breakdown of an intimate relationship
  • pre-nuptial/ pre-cohabitation agreements, particularly for high and ultra-high net worth families (often within a Family Office setting) where inter-generational wealth transfer and asset protection are key concerns
  • complex and high-conflict parenting matters. Collette has considerable expertise assisting families with non-traditional structures, and in cases involving serious allegations of risk and family violence.

Career highlights

Collette's career highlights include:

  • successfully protecting family of origin assets with value exceeding $500 million against an alleged de facto property claim
  • drafting and advising on the full suite of settlement documents in a complex property settlement between a husband and wife with significant personal and corporate/ trust wealth located across multiple overseas jurisdictions
  • protecting the interests of corporate entity third parties in contested matrimonial proceedings
  • instructing senior counsel in what remains the leading authority following the introduction of section 60H into the Family Law Act (in 2008), concerning the legal parentage of the non-biological mother of the subject child.

Client feedback

"I cannot describe how grateful I am to have you both in my life. Since Collette and I met in 2017, my life has changed dramatically. As I am sure all your clients say, I never expected things to ever turn out the way they did. There is certainly no need to explain any of that to the two of you either. The week we had in court was the most challenging of my life and also the most pivotal…you deal with people’s greatest vulnerabilities. Not everyone manages this with the dignity and grace required. But you and your team have been absolute class acts. I have passed on your details to anyone that asks me and my friends/family have also commented on how impressed they were with you and your team."

"I’d like to thank you both so much for the amazing support provided through this whole process. I can’t speak highly enough of your professionalism, your advice and your support. You were both a sensible and reasonable sounding board throughout the process. Thank you."

"Thanks Shayal and Collette for all your advice and tremendous support throughout this whole process. I’m glad it’s over now."

"Thank you both for your brilliance and your support through this hellish ordeal. This event has changed my life and me as a person... for the better. Pain has been a portal into healing and repair. I feel immence [sic] relief and empowerment moving forward and so much gratitude to have you both in my corner! Thank you for helping me protect myself and more importantly my precious kids. Forever grateful."

"Thank you so much Collette and Nicola. I still can't quite comprehend that it is done. I am a bundle of so many emotions at the moment but am so overwhelmingly relieved and happy that this terrible period is over and I don't have to go to Court. Thank you so much for all of your help, kindness and calm presence in what was such a foreign and emotional time for myself and my family."

FAQs

Who will be on my legal team?

As the largest family law team in Australia, our resources mean that we can match each client with appropriately experienced lawyers based on the complexity of the matter, the financial position of the client, and the level of expertise your matter will require. Often, we arrange for a senior and junior lawyer, together with their legal assistants, to work with you. This provides you with multiple contact points at the firm and provides a cost-effective offering, with the work divided between the lawyers appropriately.

What is a binding financial agreement?

Financial agreements are available to married couples as well as those in a de facto relationship, and can be made before or during a relationship, or after separation. Financial agreements provide certainty about how your property will be divided following separation, allowing you to save considerable money in legal fees and time, with no need to pursue litigation in the court at the end of the relationship.

Financial agreements are highly technical, detailed documents and, to be binding, must be drafted in accordance with Australia’s strict legal framework. We can help you determine whether a financial agreement is right for your circumstances, as well as record and document the most appropriate terms of the agreement.

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