Collaborative Law is a process of dispute resolution where you work with a team of collaboratively trained professionals whose goal is to reach an out of court resolution of your issue. The team typically includes to collaborative attorneys and a coach/facilitator. The team may also include a financial neutral, a child specialist, or other experts as needed. This is a form of dispute resolution which provides an out-of –court option, yet you negotiate with your attorney present.
Collaborative Law enables couples who have decided to separate or end their marriage to work with attorneys and other family professionals and to avoid the often lengthy and unpredictable outcome of litigation. Through the collaborative process, couples work to achieve a settlement that best meets the specific needs of the parties and their children.
Collaborative Law is a voluntary and transparent process. It is initiated when a couple signs an agreement to engage in the binding process. The agreement prevents either party from utilizing information obtained through the collaborative law process in future litigation and disqualifies the collaborative law attorneys from representing the parties in future family law litigation if they are unable to reach an agreement. By agreeing to enter into the collaborative process, the parties are making a commitment to work to resolve their issues through dispute resolution and not through the Court. It allows the parties to retain control of the process.
The collaborative process can be used to facilitate a broad range of family issues including divorce, custody, post-divorce disputes between parents such as contribution toward college tuition, modification of alimony and child support upon emancipation or other material changes in circumstance.
The Collaborative Team:
- Represents the Client’s interest but takes into account the other party and the family as a whole
- Educates their Client as to the legal aspects of the dispute
- Agrees to refrain from adversarial actions
- Works with the other collaborative attorney and the coach/facilitator to create an environment that will facilitate resolution
Collaborative Facilitator or Coach
- Serves as a neutral party focused on managing the process
- Also manages the behaviors and emotions
- Provides expert advice and guidance in the psychology of going through a divorce
- Reinforces effective communication between the parties
- Will intervene, if necessary to contain and manage conflict
- Advises and educates the collaborative attorneys on communication dynamics and issues
Neutral Financial Advisor
If appropriate, parties may choose to bring in a neutral financial specialist whose role is to:
- Work for both parties serving a neutral based on information disclosed by both parties
- Provides a tax analysis
- Analyzes future financial projections
- Evaluates short and long term financial consequences for all decision to be made
Child Specialist & Other Necessary Professionals
In cases where divorce involves decisions on how to best serve the needs of the children, a child specialist and other professionals that may be deemed necessary may become part of the collaborative team. They serve as neutral advisors for both parties.