Collaborative family law focuses on resolving prenuptial, divorce and separation issues. It is practiced by specially trained, experienced family lawyers with the help of professionals who, when handling a collaborative law case, devote all of their efforts to reaching settlement.
What is Collaborative Family Law?
Over ninety-percent of all legal actions eventually settle out of court before trial. Many reach settlement only after many months of financially and emotionally draining adversarial negotiation and trial preparation. Collaborative law – the practice of settling cases without court intervention – provides an alternative. Encouraging mature, cooperative and non-combative behavior and agreeing to avoid litigation create an environment where both parties and their attorneys are committed to reaching an efficient, mutually agreeable settlement – out of court.
Collaborative family law focuses on resolving domestic relations issues. It is practiced by specially trained, experienced family lawyers who, when handling a collaborative law case, devote all of their efforts to reaching settlement. A team approach is used. Often each party will visit with a communications coach to help each party focus in discussion when it comes to difficult issues. A joint financial expert may help value assets or advise prospective budgets.
How Does Collaborative Family Law Work?
As in traditional legal domestic relations matters, your lawyer supports you and your spouse’s lawyer supports your spouse. But, in collaborative family law, both lawyers must also practice collaborative law. Before the process begins, collaborative law clients formally contract to work together to resolve their domestic relations issues. Each lawyer is instructed by his/her client not to take the case to court.
To reach a settlement using collaborative law, the lawyers initiate four-way meetings between themselves and their clients. The meetings promote improved communication and cooperation and encourage reasoning, not conflict. This creates a positive settlement environment while giving both parties control over the outcome. The commitment to continued cooperation, even if communication becomes difficult, also increases the likelihood of a solution where everybody wins.
What if You Can't Reach Settlement?
What are the benefits of Collaborative Family Law?
- It creates a cooperative environment where communication remains open, which provides a setting wherein you can work with your spouse to meet your children’s needs – regardless of their ages. That helps set a tone for open communication and reduced conflict in the future.
- It establishes a team instead of adversaries. Your attorney supports you; your spouse’s attorney supports your spouse; but, you all work together. In working together, you retain control of the process.
- In matters requiring expert opinions, both parties can jointly hire one or more independent consultants. That helps shorten the duration of the case and may help reduce the overall expense.
- You and your spouse shape the agreement together, which means you are more likely to keep it. That diminishes the parental conflict the adversarial system generates and helps protect children from facing the anguish and divided loyalties that result.
- You can schedule meetings without waiting for court dates. That means you generally spend less time to reach closure. It also means you reduce the fear and anxiety associated with court proceedings.
- Your issues stay within the collaborative law setting. That gives you more privacy, greater confidentiality, and less stress during an already stressful time.
Why Consider Retaining Collaborative Lawyers?
- You are a vital part of the settlement team consisting of both parties both attorneys and affiliated professionals. Meetings take place on your schedule, not a court driven schedule.
- You are each supported by your lawyers, and yet you work cooperatively with your spouse and his/her lawyer in resolving your issues.
- Everyone can focus on settlement without the threat of “going to court” and getting bogged down for months waiting for a court date.
- The process is much less fear and anxiety producing.
- You control the proceedings; your destiny is in your hands rather than in the hands of a third party (the courts).
- The possibility exists that the participants can create a climate that facilitates “win-win” settlements.
- When children are involved, parents must resolve important issues with significant thought to the after-effects. Collaborative Family Law provides a positive context in which to deal with these concerns without resorting to litigation.
How Would a Prenuptial Agreement be Created Using Collaborative Law?
The parties and their collaborative law lawyers will negotiate the terms of your agreement using all of the collaborative law skills. Principled negotiations in face-to-face “4-way” meetings help keep communications clear and focused. It is important that each party’s voice be able to speak and be heard as the issues are negotiated. Often the parties each visit with communication coaches, whose training can assist the party in the negotiating process.