What is Collaborative Law?

To reach agreements using the Collaborative Practice process, all parties begin by agreeing not to go to court. You, your lawyer, your spouse and your spouse’s lawyer sign a written contract which commits all of you to a series of meetings in which you will work creatively in collaboration with each other to arrive at agreements out of court. In most cases, financial and mental health professionals are also involved. This approach is the “team model” of Collaborative Practice. These professionals can actually save time and money by advising on financial issues, communication, emotions and child development. Their skills facilitate a better understanding of the issues and the consequences of choices the parties must make, and thus can make the options clearer and the outcome more satisfactory for all.

The primary forum for negotiating an agreement is meetings with both parties, their two lawyers, and the other professionals. It usually takes several such team meetings to resolve all the issues. Between meetings, each party meets separately with his or her lawyer or other professionals.

Is Collaborative Divorce Right for Me?

If you and your spouse want to end your marriage with dignity and respect and the possibility of an ongoing relationship as co-parent or friends, Collaborative Practice Divorce is for you!

Divorce is never easy. Family conflict can exhaust the emotional and financial resources of both spouses, and destroy any remaining respect between them. Especially when children are involved, this situation is a tragic way to end a relationship.

The traditional process of getting a lawyer, filing papers, engaging in “discovery,” and going before a judge makes a difficult situation immeasurably worse. The Collaborative Practice Divorce provides an alternative which supports you with legal, emotional, and financial expertise.

There are alternatives, however. Several forms of Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) have been developed to assist couples to reach their own divorce agreements. If you and your spouse can make a fair and complete agreement using ADR, the Court will adopt it as your Final Decree.

Why not Mediation?

Mediation is also a settlement process that seeks to resolve disputes with limited court involvement. There are important distinctions between Collaborative Practice and Mediation, however. Mediation does not always involve the use of attorneys.

When couples mediate without lawyers, they do not get important legal representation and support throughout their decision-making. When couples involve lawyers in mediation, the lawyers serve the dual role of assisting in settlement process but also preparing for litigation. This dual role increases the contentiousness of the mediation process.

Mediation also does not provide the comprehensive professional support from mental health and financial professionals that Collaborative Practice Divorce provides.