Collaborative law empowers spouses to dissolve their marriage with dignity. It is a practice designed to minimize the conflict of a divorcing couple while working toward the peaceful resolution of their practical issues. This is accomplished in several sessions with the parties, their attorneys, and other professionals, such as financial specialists, family relations specialists, and child specialists. The goal in collaborative law is to make a good faith attempt to reach a mutually acceptable settlement without going to court. Working together, all of the participants strive to dissolve the marriage in a way that addresses all of the needs of the couple, whether legal, financial, and/or emotional.
The collaborative process begins with a review of the “participation agreement,” to be signed by both parties and their attorneys. Among other points, the agreement requires the parties to: (1) exchange complete financial information; (2) maintain complete confidentiality during the process; (3) strive to reach an agreement in writing on all issues; and (4) authorize the attorneys to use the written agreement when obtaining the court’s final decree. All of the participants, including the financial specialists, family relations specialists and child specialists, are bound by the terms of the agreement.
The process continues with a meeting between the spouses and their Collaborative attorneys to discuss their individual concerns. Additional meetings are scheduled, sometimes including additional specialists, to address and resolve every issue, including division of property, parenting plans, and monetary support. Throughout the collaborative process, the parties all strive to working things out in a positive, future-oriented manner.
Frequently asked questions
How do I start the collaborative law process?
The initial meeting is usually a limited consultation designed to introduce you to the process and provide you with an opportunity to ask questions.
Who will benefit from the collaborative law process?
Many divorcing parties are looking for the experience and skill of a family law attorney, but are hesitant about the time and expense of litigation. Collaborative law is an excellent option.
Under what circumstances would this process be inappropriate?
Situations where there are issues of domestic violence, substance abuse, or significant mental illness may impact on the success of the collaborative law process. In such cases, it may be determined that the collaborative law process is not appropriate.
Who is on the collaborative team?
The collaborative team consists of specially trained professionals including attorneys, financial specialists, family relations specialists, child specialists, and will be chosen based upon the parties’ specific needs.