Collaborative Law is a team approach to problem solving. Through this confidential process, your attorneys, neutral financial expert, divorce coaches, child specialist, and/or other necessary professionals guide and/or advise you towards a comprehensive and fully enforceable agreement that makes sense for you.
What is Collaborative Divorce?
The Collaborative Divorce process has gained in popularity in recent years because of its complete resolution approach.
Working with professionals trained in each aspect of divorce, in Mediation and in Collaborative processes creates the opportunity for a more efficient, amicable, and complete transition through the divorce process, without the need to become adversarial or appear in court. The parties, with the help of these professionals, co-create their own agreements, which are then put into formal court documents, signed, and filed with the court. Once they are signed by the judge, they become binding and fully enforceable court orders.
Your professional Collaborative Team may consist of two collaborative attorneys, a neutral financial specialist, a divorce coach (or two), and possibly a neutral child specialist. Every professional is trained in both mediation and collaborative processes.
How does Collaborative Law work?
- Step 1: Commit to a process; this includes identifying your professional team and your goals (what does success mean to you).
- Step 2: Meet with professional team to sign required documents, discuss preparing and/or filing of the Petition and Response documents, discuss any urgent concerns that require immediate attention, and schedule target dates for completion of tasks and meetings, including, possibly, your target conclusion date.
- Step 3: Brainstorm possible solutions with the help of your professionals
- Step 4: Sign and file your agreement with the court so that it is fully enforceable
- Step 5: Follow up – your professionals will follow up with you periodically after your process is complete to make sure that it is still working for you both.
Why would I use the Collaborative Process?
There is no one-way to divorce. And there are certainly no certain predictors for what process would yield the best results for your unique situation. What is certain is that the higher the conflict, the stronger the emotions, and the more broken the communication and trust between the parties, the longer it will take to resolve, and the more expensive it will be, regardless of the process you choose. Consider the following factors to decide if the Collaborative Process is right for you:
- I and/or the other party would feel more confident negotiating a divorce agreement if I/we had our own attorneys guiding and advising me/us
- Our communication is very strained or non-existent
- One party has complete control over money and/or children
- I would like a neutral financial professional and a lawyer to make sure that the financial information makes sense and I’m making the best possible decisions
- We have extensive/complex finances
- One party is not ready to divorce (in denial)
- I have a difficult schedule and I’d like a process that can accommodate meetings when I’m available
- I want a voice in the outcome
- I want my children to have a voice, without feeling caught in the middle
- I’d like to keep as much of our personal and financial information as private/confidential as possible
- I want to make sure I understand all tax implications of our agreements and have an opportunity to plan ahead
- I just don’t want to appear in court or have my children testify
Can any attorney be my attorney in Collaboration?
The success of your collaboration depends on having the right team of professionals. Many litigation attorneys are good at settling cases – through intimidation, “tough negotiating tactics”, or simply by exhausting the other side financially and/or emotionally, while doing the same to their own client. In fact, 95%% of all divorce cases settle before trial. What is unique about a collaborative trained professional is their entire approach to resolution.They focus on each parties’ needs and interests, rather than their position. They are sources of peace rather than intimidation. How the discussion is handled will determine the success of your collaborative process. Asking “What child expenses need to be met” opens up more options than stating “ guideline support is guideline support and we will accept nothing less”. Collaboratively trained attorneys will be able to phrase statements in a productive way and will help explore creative options for resolution.
Is Collaborative a faster way to resolve conflict?
Your unique situation determines how quickly your process moves; In other words, your divorce, through Collaborative Divorce, takes however long it takes for you and your spouse to agree. Collaborative Law is more direct and efficient. By focusing on problem-solving, instead of blame and grievances, there is a greater likelihood of reaching an agreement more quickly. By dealing with the emotional and financial issues, as well as the legal issues, in a safe, open, respectful environment, you will reach a resolution faster than fighting each issue in court. The only issues that will be addressed in court are those that are “legally relevant”. Concerns such as “he doesn’t know how to take care of children” or “we can’t sell the house because we’re upside-down on it” are not the concern of the court and often result in multiple court hearings for restricted visitation or temporary control of the property. In collaborative there is no need to wait for court availability (you can typically have your first session within a few days) and each issue is addressed directly and with the right professional(s).
How does Collaborative Divorce focus on the future?
Conflict, whether divorce or business, can be both an ending and a beginning. The Collaborative process gives you the tools to anticipate and include your need to move forward and makes the future of your children, business, and/or reputation a top priority. As a more respectful dignified process, Collaborative Law supports your goals for a smoother transition to the next chapter of your lives. With the help of your collaborative team, you will also learn the skills techniques that will improve future communications between you and your former spouse or client and help you problem solve as future issues arise.
How much does the Collaborative process cost?
The cost of your Collaborative process depends on how quickly you and the other party are able to come to an agreement, the number and complexity of the issues, and the level of conflict. Each team member is paid their individual rate for professional services. So the cost varies widely. Studies have shown that Collaborative Divorce typically ranges in cost from 1/10th to 1/3rd the cost of contested court battles. When comparing the costs of the Collaborative process and conventional litigation in court, remember to factor in not only the attorneys’ and experts’ fees and court costs, but, also, time lost from work to attend court hearings, child care costs for the time you spend in court, the stress and sleepless nights you, your children, and your family and friends will experience. You should also consider that all documents filed, including those nasty declarations that make each side look as bad as possible, are public record for all to see: your friends, co-workers, competitors, potential clients, family, employers, and your children. These “soft costs” are often far greater than any money that you could actually spend in litigation. Schedule your free 45-minute orientation today for more information.