Going through a divorce or other contested family law matter does not automatically mean you must go to court in order to have your issue resolved. As an alternative to traditional litigation, the collaborative law process provides you and your spouse, partner, or co-parent with the support and guidance of attorney representation without the stress, expense, and unknowns of going to court. The parties resolve their disputes in a series of face-to-face meetings with their attorneys and team members while respecting both parties’ shared goals. The collaborative law process is better equipped than traditional litigation to leave the parties’ relationships with each other and their children in tact as the family structure changes.
Collaborative Practice, also called Collaborative Divorce, or the Collaborative Law Model, is an alternative to traditional litigation that was developed in the 1980s. The key differences between traditional litigation and Collaborative Practice are:
Each party must be represented by an attorney trained in the Collaborative Process. However, in addition to attorneys, other professionals can be added to the team when their area of expertise is needed. Team members can include financial experts, child specialists, vocational rehabilitation coaches, mediators, or mental health professionals depending on the needs of your case. The collaborative divorce team helps both clients to identify the issues in their case and to develop creative solutions to reach agreement.
Collaborative Practice offers many advantages including:
The collaborative process can work for many types of family law cases, including divorce, establishment of custody, parenting time, and child support, custody modifications, and high asset divorces, just to name a few.
It is particularly helpful in cases where both parties want to put the needs of their children first, but need legal guidance or other support to reach a mutual understanding.
Clients must be willing to negotiate with one another face-to-face, with the aid of their attorneys. For this reason, the collaborative model may not be appropriate for cases involving domestic abuse.
The collaborative team is typically selected by the parties and their attorneys early in the collaborative case. For cases involving complex financial assets or debts, a financial expert can be brought on to help both parties transition into financial independence and address the future tax consequences of a divorce. Cases involving young children might benefit from a child specialist who will work with the parties to develop a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the children. For some cases, the team consists only of the parties and their attorneys.
The benefit of the team approach is that it allows the parties access to professionals who are experts in the fields that are relevant to their case.