What is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative law is a new way to resolve disputes by removing the disputed matter from the litigious court room setting and treating the process as a way to “trouble shoot and problem solve” rather than to fight and win.
As part of the collaborative law method, both parties retain separate attorneys whose job it is to help them settle the dispute. No one may go to court. If that should occur, the collaborative law process terminates and both attorneys are disqualified from any further involvement in the case.
Each party in the Collaborative law process signs a contractual agreement which include the following terms:
Disclosure of Documents.
Each party agrees to honestly and openly disclose all documents and information relating to the issues. Neither spouse may take advantage of a miscalculation or an inadvertent mistake. Instead, such errors are identified and corrected.
Each party agrees to act respectfully and avoid disparaging or vilifying any of the participants.
As part of the process all participants agree to insulate the children from the proceeding and to act ins such a way as to minimize the impact of the divorce on them.
The parties agree to implement outside experts where necessary in a cooperative fashion and share the costs related to those experts. (e.g. real estate appraisers, business appraisers, parenting consultants, vocational evaluators, or accountants)
The primary goal of the process is to work toward an amicable solution and to create a “win-win” situation for all.
Neither party may seek or threaten court action to resolve disputes. If the parties decide to go to court, the attorneys must withdraw and the process begins anew in the court system.
One of the biggest differences in the Collaborative law process is that it recognizes that emotional issues exist that cannot be addressed by the legal system. How often have you heard stories of divorcing parties spending thousands of dollars in legal fees to argue about pets or furniture that has limited monetary value. Generally speaking, the parties in such cases are not arguing about dogs, cats or furniture. Instead, they are reacting to psychological pains that they experiencing. These emotional issues that are ignored in the Court process. By contrast, the collaborative law process specifically addresses these issues by bringing them to the forefront and using professionals as part of team approach to find solutions.
A team of professionals is assembled to help the parties understand and resolve their disputes in many different contexts. The disputes maybe legal disputes or emotional and include: mental health counselors/ coaches for each party, neutral financial advisors, accountants, parenting specialists, child specialists, vocational experts, and appraisers, if needed.
A child specialist may play a very important role in the collaborative process. So often, children become the unintended victims in divorce proceedings. They internalize the conflict and often blame themselves for the break up of their family. The child specialist works with children of divorcing parents. It is their job to assist the children in understanding that the parental dispute is not their fault and to teach them how to cope and communicate with their parents. In this way, the children have a voice in the proceedings and become part of the team process.