Collaborative Law

Collaborative law allows a team approach.  Each client is represented by a separate attorney and all agree that no one will litigate (go to court and fight).  The parties may decide to hire a facilitator (a mental health professional) to help them deal with the many issues they are facing with the divorce or separation. As we all know, divorce is so emotionally painful.  In addition, a financial professional may be hired for the team.  The couple meets with a trained professional (CPA or financial planner) to discuss their financial picture and come up with solutions that meet everyone's needs including the children.  This collaborative law concept replaces the hostile trial where you have the dueling CPA's giving their opinion of how the assets and debts should be divided.  Instead, one financial person that the parties trust is working together with the family.  If the children need help then an individual child specialist could come aboard the team and offer support.  This gets rid of the nasty custody evaluation that is often used in a custody trial at court.  No one is tearing down anyone; instead the team works to support the family in every possible way.  The parties are empowered to make the decisions themselves with the help of the experts that they have chosen to be part of the team.

Studies have found that if the parties come up with the solutions then there is more likelihood that the decisions will be followed in the future.  For instance, if the couple when working through the financial planner discover they want to waive child support even though the guidelines call for child support, this can be done.  If there has been an affair as part of the break up of the marriage, a trained mental health expert can help coach the party through the process so the emotional pain doesn't derail the legal issues that need to be decided.  The collaborative law case approach is less expensive than litigating the case in an ugly court battle.  Especially if the couple is faced with bringing in the experts to fight it out in court for two years with dueling financial professionals, mental health people, etc.  The fees can be huge. Wouldn't a better approach be to have the team (professional people the couple trusts) work out the issues with solutions the parties can live with?   The team has business meetings and each party still has their individual attorney who they can ask private advice from that will not be shared with the team.  It promotes a win/win for the entire family.

Collaborative law provides people the opportunity to resolve disputes by avoiding an ugly court battle and instead treat the divorce process as a way to "trouble shoot and problem solve". Each party agrees to act respectfully and avoid disparaging or vilifying any of the parties.  Each party agrees to honestly and openly disclose all documents and information relating to the issues.  Parties agree to work to minimize the impact of the divorce on the children. If the collaborative law process breaks down and the case has to go to trial, then both attorneys withdraw completely from the case and each party must hire new counsel.   It is rare that the process breaks down and often the case is settled and no one steps foot in the courthouse.  There is an economic and emotional savings that makes the process very rewarding to people.  The collaborative approach tends to move people towards resolution and healing.

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