Collaborative law is a fairly new concept and peaceful alternative to the traditionally adversarial family separation and divorce process. Under the old model of separation and divorce, parties would usually hire attorneys and spend thousands to tens of thousands of dollars to drag each other through court and the children would suffer as a result, either from the emotional turmoil or the financial strain between the parties. While litigation is still an option, collaborative law allows families an alternative. It is a more affordable option and leaves the family with it’s dignity intact.
How does it work? Collaborative law requires attorneys who are specifically trained in the area of collaborative law. Traditionally litigious attorneys who are not trained cannot best facilitate a collaborative process. Unlike in some mediation settings, collaborative law requires both attorneys and their clients to all sit at the same table together. Everyone agrees that we will engage in thoughtful discussions (even when they may be difficult) in a respectful, courteous and mature fashion. Additionally, everyone agrees to negotiate in good faith. Everything is on the table – including open disclosure of financials and other information that may be necessary for closure.
Structured meetings are scheduled in advance that include topics of custody, support, and property division. Each meeting lasts about two hours so that you are able to take a break and step away for a bit when discussions became difficult and decisions need to be made that need some careful consideration. The attorneys act as both your legal guides but also help facilitate the process. At the end of the meetings, a separation agreement will be drafted and reviewed by everyone before it’s execution. While litigation can last years, the collaborative process expedites resolution of your divorce and separation and can usually be completed within a matter of months.
What are the benefits of Collaborative Law?
· Control: Traditional divorce litigation gives a judge the power to decide your future, from child custody to property division to alimony. In a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse have control over your own outcome.
· Client focus: Simply put, the collaborative process is about you and your family. The process is tailored to truly helping you and meeting your needs. It is not about a lawyer building a reputation by “winning” a case.
· Communication: One key feature of collaborative law is that it teaches the couple how to communicate effectively and openly in order to resolve issues. This is completely the opposite of most litigation, in which communication is cut off in favor of secrecy, and that leads to more hostility.
· Cooperation: The essence of litigation is an adversarial, confrontational approach. Collaborative law, in contrast, encourages couples to cooperate in a respectful, useful way, preserving their emotional and mental health.
· A team of professionals: In a collaborative case, an entire team is working to help the couple reach a positive outcome. The typical team includes financial experts, mental health professionals and child specialists as necessary. Experts in litigation are hired separately, typically at great cost.
We offer collaborative services for a flat fee. Contact us today to learn more.