What is Collaborative Family Law?
Collaborative Process is a way for you to resolve your family law dispute outside of a courtroom. Whether your family law dispute is a divorce, a non-marital partner dissolution or a parenting issue, Collaborative Process gives you an opportunity to resolve your issues in an environment of open conversation and mutual respect.
The key differences between Collaborative Process and family court litigation is as follows:
You and the other parties to the dispute agree in writing to pursue a settlement and not to go to court.
The parties and their professionals meet and discuss the issues with the goal of finding common ground for an agreement. Financial experts, counselors and coaches, are brought in to facilitate a fair and mutually agreeable outcome.
Conversations and settlement discussions in Collaborative Process cannot be repeated in court. The process can be terminated at any time by any party, and either party may seek relief from the court should it become necessary. However, to permit the professionals to focus on settlement rather than litigation preparation, the professionals who participated in the Collaborative Process are not permitted to participate in any later litigation.
The Collaborative Process recognizes that your situation is unique, and offers the ability for disputants to come to creative and effective solutions that suit your particular situation, rather than having to accept a “cookie-cutter” approach to resolving family disputes. The Collaborative Process encourages mutual respect. Whether you are discussing an agreement in anticipation of marriage, or upon the ending of a marriage, you may prefer to handle such matters in a respectful way which will not leave you with long-standing bitterness.
If children are involved, Collaborative Process can help you to continue an effective working relationship that allows you to continue being a loving parent even after divorce.
In Collaborative Process, each client has the services of an interdisciplinary team of professionals that help to manage the legal, financial and emotional aspects of the dispute and help the client to negotiate an agreement that suits him or her. Work that in a traditional adversarial model might be done entirely by an attorney (or perhaps not addressed at all) is delegated to other specialized professionals at a lower cost.
Most work occurs in meetings that include all parties and one or more professionals, depending on what is needed. The Collaborative attorneys are present for all legal negotiations. Unlike traditional adversarial court process, Collaborative Process focuses on problem solving, rather than blame or the endless airing of grievances. The requirements of full financial disclosure and open communications help to insure that all issues are discussed in a timely manner.
There is no easy answer to the question about whether Collaborative Process is right for you and your particular dispute. The effectiveness of the Collaborative Process depends in part on how willing the parties are to agree and compromise and how committed the parties are to resolving their disagreements amicably. If you feel you can listen to the other person’s needs and desires and feel that he or she may listen to yours in an effort to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of your family law issues, you may wish to consider Collaborative Process as an effective and efficient way to settle your matter without costly and stressful litigation.
If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys about the possibility of resolving your family law conflict through collaborative process, please contact us.
We look forward to hearing from you.