Collaborative Family Law
What is collaborative family law?
When couples choose to use a Collaborative approach to their separation, each spouse is represented by his or her own collaborative attorney. Those attorneys work together with the clients to devise a negotiated settlement agreement. Both sides agree that information will be shared openly, all parties will act in good faith and - most importantly - the matter will be resolved outside court. A collaborative law approach can be a much faster way of of resolving your post-separation legal issues and the cost is often more affordable than the traditional adversarial approach to litigation.
Is a collaborative approach right for me?
Most parties agree - at least initially - that they would prefer not to have their personal matters dragged through the court system. However, collaborative law is not for everyone. The collaborative approach is appropriate for spouses who are committed to voluntarily working toward resolving post-separation legal issues. The collaborative process requires both spouses to be open and honest with the exchange of information and for both spouses to maintain a commitment to reaching a negotiated settlement without going to court. If you and your spouse are committed to this idea, then a collaborative law approach may be right for you.
How does it work?
Attorneys who practice collaborative law are trained and experienced in guiding clients toward a negotiated settlement. Each spouse retains a family lawyer who includes collaborative law in their practice areas. Both parties and their attorneys will meet (both privately and collectively) in a series of meetings. During these meetings, information will be voluntarily exchanged, issues will be identified and resolutions will be sought. In some cases, additional neutral professionals (such as accountants or psychologists) are retained to assist the parties in overcoming hurdles in negotiations and reaching optimum results. Once a settlement is reached, an agreement will be drafted to reflect the parties decisions. Both parties and their attorneys will review and sign the agreement, which is then filed with the court.
What if it doesn't work?
In the event that attempts at a collaborative settlement are unsuccessful, both attorneys must withdraw from the case and cannot represent the parties in any future litigation that may arise. The parties are then free to engage other attorneys to represent them.