Collaborative Law

The Benefits of Working with Collaborative Lawyers

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In a conventional divorce the husband and wife both retain divorce litigation lawyers. Usually the lawyers attempt to resolve the parties marital issues in court while they prepare for a trial in which a judge decides all the issues related to children, support and division of property. Ironically, less than one percent of divorces actually go to trial. In more than 99% of all divorces the lawyers negotiate a settlement on or before the eve of the trial. So, after paying thousands of dollars to prepare for a trial, the couple negotiates a settlement one to five years after the process begins.

Collaborative law avoids this unreasonable waste of economic and emotional resources. One premise of Collaborative law is that, if the couple will ultimately settle the case, why put them through the cost of preparing for a trial that in 99% of the divorces is not going to happen? Why not help them maintain control of the process and negotiate a settlement themselves with the help of collaborative lawyers?

Couples facing separation and divorce encounter many challenges, especially when children are involved. Parents must resolve important issues with significant thought to the after-effects on their children. Collaborative Family Law provides a positive, productive environment in which to deal with these concerns without resorting to litigation. Collaborative law allows you and you spouse to resolve your issues while treating each other with respect so that you can create an environment in which you and your children can thrive.

How collaborative law works

You and your spouse each retain a collaborative law attorney. The attorneys and parties agree from the onset to resolve their marital issues without initiating court action. Your attorney is your advocate and works with you, your spouse’s attorney, and your spouse to resolve your divorce issues. Contrary to litigation where the attorney’s focus is exclusively on their client’s interests, Collaborative lawyers focus on building a consensus that addresses the needs of everyone who will be directly affected by the divorce. This exciting new paradigm empowers you, not lawyers or a judge, to shape the outcome of your divorce.

At the beginning of the process, you, your spouse, and both lawyers sign a Participation Agreement, which provides that if the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the lawyers will withdraw from the case and assist the clients in transitioning the case to trial attorneys. Both parties and their attorneys are therefore committed from the onset to resolve the parties issues without litigation. The agreement requires both parties to:

  1. Exchange complete financial information so that each spouse can make well-informed decisions;
  2. Maintain absolute confidentiality during the process, so that each spouse can feel free to express his or her needs and concerns;
  3. Reach written agreement on all issues and concerns outside of contested court proceedings;
  4. Authorize the attorneys to use the written agreement to obtain a final court Divorce decree.

Key advantages to Collaborative Law

  • Children’s Best Interest. The scars caused by contentious litigation may be deep and difficult to heal. By deciding to resolve your marital issues in a non-contentious manner, you lay groundwork for going forward in a positive fashion. If you have children, avoiding the anger and emotional damage caused by litigation creates a positive foundation for you and your spouse to work together effectively as parents after the Divorce.
  • You save Money. Litigation can be extremely expensive. Agreeing not to litigate saves you money and time.
  • Focus on Settlement. Removing the threat of “going to court” reduces anxiety and fear, thereby helping you focus on finding positive solutions.
  • You retain control. Though you each have a lawyer, you and your spouse take responsibility for shaping the settlement as the key members of the team. You and your spouse, not a judge, are making the decisions that affect your family. You retain an advocate. You retain the benefits of an attorney looking out for your best interest while crafting the settlement cooperatively with your spouse.

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