Five Reasons to Consider Collaborative Law

Collaborative Law is one option for alternative dispute resolution and consists of divorcing couples applying a team approach to the resolution of their issues. The parties with their collaboratively trained attorneys come together with a collaboratively trained mental health professional referred to as a “divorce coach.” The divorce coach acts as a neutral person and encourages civility while guiding the group dynamics to keep the process moving toward settlement. The team can consist of any number of professionals depending on the particular needs of the individual case, such as financial advisors or children’s counselors. The theory behind this process is to provide the participants with all necessary resources to promote a comprehensive divorce settlement.  Typically, prior to beginning the process, the parties agree that they will not seek Court intervention while participating in such forums but will go to Court only at the end of their collaboration in order to have their agreement approved by the Judge. If at some point during the process negotiations break down and the parties choose to litigate their divorce, their attorneys must withdraw from the case and the parties must find new counsel.

Below are five reasons why you might opt for Collaborative Law in order to resolve your divorce:

1. There will be a comprehensive resolution to your divorce. When a divorce reaches its resolution through litigation, the parties must then start to pick up the pieces of their lives and begin to contemplate a plan for moving forward. With collaborative law, the idea is that throughout the process of your divorce, you will also have the opportunity to address collateral issues, simultaneously working to end the marriage while planning for the future, not simply in terms of your marital status but also with respect to your such things as your financial wherewithal, your mental health, decision making skills for the future, or the emotional health of your children. The hope of collaborative law practitioners is that you won’t feel as if you’re being left in the debris of your former life when a judgment of divorce is entered. There will be a plan in place for your future; your questions will have been answered and a firm support system on all fronts will be in place;

2. The process of collaborative law allows you to design the course your divorce will take. Litigated divorces often follow very similar paths, essentially filling in the blanks with your process mirroring thousands of others that have traveled down that same path. Collaborative Law allows your divorce to be as personalized as your marriage once was. It will address the issues particular to you, your family and your needs for the future. It will be about you and what is important to you;

3.  Collaborative law allows you and your family to maintain privacy throughout the divorce process. When a divorce is litigated, with few exceptions, it is heard in open court and free for public consumption. The intimate details of your life will be divulged and contemplated by perfect strangers, your income and assets will be freely discussed, and particularities regarding your children will be disclosed. Many of the same discussions will occur as might exist in a collaborative law forum, but they will happen in a closed door session with only your spouse and team present. When an agreement reached through mediation is brought to the Court for approval, a Judge will read it in chambers, ask you if you have read and understand the agreement, and will in most cases have it entered without disclosing one detail of the provisions in open court;

4.  Collaborative law breads civility. Collaborative law depends on participants adopting a civil, reasonable and respectful demeanor for the purpose of efficiently and effectively working thorough the issues of their divorce. Unlike litigation that often encourages controversy between the parties, collaboration requires cooperation and the ability to interact respectfully with the team. The tone of civility instituted at the onset of the process has a snowball effect not only throughout the process but long after when the parties are called upon to interact for the benefit of the children;

5. Collaborative law keeps the focus of your divorce on target at all times. With a team in place for the purpose of resolving the issues of your divorce and family, it is almost impossible for a divorce to fall off track. Each session is deliberately devised to assist the parties in moving forward and taking productive steps to improve the days ahead. In litigated divorces, there is often “much to do about nothing” when one party insists on going down a certain road and the other has no choice but to follow, answer, defend, etc., the result of which is  exaggerated legal costs for both parties. Collaborative law is broad in its scope but ever forward in its movement.