Divorce is hard on families. Hostile divorces can take years for the emotional pain to subside. Collaborative Family Law is an emerging type of practice that seeks to resolve divorce and family issues in a cooperative manner without courts and litigation.
Why Collaborative Family Law?
- Avoid Court – Everyone can focus on a settlement without the constant threat of “going to court.”
- Cooperative Approach – You are each supported and represented by your own lawyer and, yet, you can cooperate confidently with your spouse and his or her lawyer in resolving your issues.
- Client Participation – You are a vital part of the settlement team (consisting of both parties and both attorneys).
- Clients in Charge – The process is empowering, informative, and less stressful than court. You control the proceedings. Your destiny and that of your family is not in the hands of a third party (court).
- Collaborative Lawyers – Both parties have skilled family lawyers committed to the collaborative process of settling without the threat of “going to court.”
- It Works – The collaborative law process works if problem solving is more important than fighting and you want solutions that are fair for both of you.
How Do Collaborative Lawyers Work?
- Informal four-party conferences where the future well-being of you and your family is the number one goal.
- Complete, honest exchange of information in an informal setting.
- Using creative problem-solving techniques to assist you in producing an agreement tailored to the needs of you and your family.
- Your spouse and his or her attorney are treated as part of a settlement team, not adversaries.
- Both attorneys are concerned about the process, as well as the outcome.
- Your collaborative lawyers are committed to finding constructive ways to achieve a settlement that will work best in your case. Their basic philosophy is to focus on a settlement without a trial.
- The lawyers have a financial incentive to succeed. They must settle your case or withdraw.
What Happens If Settlement Cannot Be Reached?
In the event the parties are unable to reach a settlement through the collaborative process, the collaborative lawyers withdraw from the case and the parties are free to hire trial attorneys to pursue the matter in court.
How Does It Work?
With the collaborative approach, both parties and their attorneys enter into a commitment agreement to the process. The attorneys are involved early in the process to facilitate full disclosure by both parties and to use reasoning and analysis to generate fair and just options for a fair settlement. The goal is to minimize adversity in the process and reach an equitable solution without court.
What If It Does Not Work?
In order for collaborative family law to work, incentives and disincentives are built into the process. The incentives are to eliminate court, reduce time and save the emotional expense that comes with animosity between the parties and lengthy court battles. The disincentive occurs if the process breaks down. As part of the commitment agreement, the collaborative attorneys must withdraw from the case if the process breaks down or proves unsuccessful. Both attorneys will assist in locating trial lawyers for the clients and provide a quick, efficient transition.
What Issues Can Be Resolved with Collaborative Family Law?
1. Separation and divorce
2. Non-marital relationship breakup
3. Custody arrangements and parenting issues
5. Spousal and child support
6. Division of assets and debts
7. Modification of existing orders
1. Avoid court battles
2. Focus on the children
3. Client is empowered by the process
4. Can save time
6. Cooperative approach
7. Informal setting
8. Creative problem solving
9. It benefits everyone
10. It works—the collaborative law process works if problem-solving is more important than fighting and both parties want to reach fair and just solutions.
If you’ve made your decision to proceed, here’s how to get started:
1. Talk with your spouse or opposing party about Collaborative Family Law and share the information provided on this website.
2. Both parties need to choose a collaborative lawyer from the list of trained professionals on this site.
3. Meet individually with your own collaborative lawyer to discuss the details of the collaborative law process in your situation.
4. Both parties and both lawyers sign a collaborative law agreement.
5. Both parties and their lawyers attend the first collaborative law meeting.