Collaborative Law is a transparent client-centered process where the parties and their collaborative team work together exclusively toward settlement. Each client is represented by a collaboratively trained and experienced lawyer. Allied professionals, such as a facilitator or financial or child specialists, may join the team as needed. The sole focus is to assist the parties in working through the complex information gathering and trade-offs required to reach a compromised settlement on all issues.
Your Collaborative Law case occurs with commitment to a non-litigated solution. Removing the “long shadow of the courthouse” from your case allows the parties to problem-solve based upon what they choose and not “what would a judge do?” At the outset the parties agree that they will work to provide full, honest and open disclosure of all relevant information and cooperate to resolve issues without resorting to litigation. If the matter should go to court, the lawyers are disqualified from the case. Specialists may be disqualified or not based on signed stipulations.
In the family law arena, Collaborative Law is effectively used to resolve divorce, separation, and parenting issues as well as to develop or resolve prenuptial or nuptial agreements and other family-based contract issues. 4-way meetings (attorneys and parties) are the primary method of negotiation so that communication is clear and the solution belongs to the parties. See Principals of Conduct.
The outcome of the vast majority of collaborative divorce cases is a settlement that both parties agree is a fair solution for each of them.
The Team Approach is an interdisciplinary model. In the Team Approach, not only are two collaboratively trained lawyers retained by the parties, other collaboratively trained professionals for financial, mental health, or parenting/child issues may be brought in as needed for settlement assistance. The basic theory behind the Team Approach is that since every divorce client has emotional, financial and legal components, the interdisciplinary approach brings to the table expertise in all these areas. The Collaborative process is geared to directly address the needs of the family involved.
Every divorce has emotional, financial and legal components. The interdisciplinary approach brings to the table expertise in all these areas.
Your collaborative lawyer will be your guide and advisor throughout the process. Resolution is reached after all pertinent information is shared and the needs and interests of each party are taken into account. Your attorney is your counselor-at-law, educating and advising you. The attorneys will help you determine which team members may be added for your benefit to make your process more efficient. They will only be added if doing so will lend value to your settlement process.
The Collaborative Law attorney must think in terms of not only the legal issues but also the human dynamics of the client and the other party.
The duty of a collaborative lawyer is to foster an environment of cooperation while representing the client diligently and competently. Each collaborative lawyer works with her/his client individually and in association with other team members.
Collaborative training for lawyers differs from the traditional law school adversarial system where the goal is to fight and win. In a collaborative case, the lawyer must represent his/her client’s interests while also taking into consideration that the goal is to bring about a fair resolution for all affected. In family law, this involves working with spouses and their family without resorting to litigation.
The Collaborative Law attorney must think in terms of not only the legal issues but also the human dynamics of the client and the other party. The goal is to be effective and to diffuse negative emotions which might lead to an explosive chain reaction. Instead of thinking about “what is the most we can get from the other side?” or “how can we exploit differences?” the attorney must take into consideration what is fair and how to achieve resolution working together.
Clients look to the attorneys and other professionals in their words and deeds to model how clients should behave while involved in a difficult discussion. Attorneys are counselors at law who must strive to promote civility and respect for the individuals and the Team process.
The Collaborative Divorce Facilitator is process and people focused to help your resolution be efficient and thorough.
A collaborative divorce facilitator (CDF) is often utilized to keep your process on pace. The CDF helps hold a neutral space for the negotiation, after all your lawyer is representing you and not the other party. The CDF assures that everyone’s voice is at the table so that all interests and goals are addressed. Resolution seldom occurs if only one party feels heard at the negotiation table. The CDF has proven to be a valuable and effective tool in efficiently reaching resolution.
Your CDF is a collaboratively trained professional with strong mediation skills and intricate knowledge of making the most effective use of the collaborative process. The CDF serves as a negotiation facilitator, helping clients reach agreements while assuring that everyone’s voice is heard at the negotiation table.
The CDF acts as a process facilitator to assure that meetings are well prepared and go smoothly and that the team is making progress toward completing the case, helping clients develop and focus on what interests they would like to have satisfied as they move through their Collaborative divorce.
In addition to facilitation and scheduling and management of process issues, the CDF works to enhance the parties’ working together toward solution. With agreement of the parties, the CDF may meet with the parties individually or jointly to get a better grasp of how negotiations can be improved and to assist with communication skills so that respectful and principled negotiations can occur.
Using one financial neutral whom both parties can rely upon aids in the transparency necessary for trust and resolution to occur.
Neutral financial specialists are typically CPAs or certified divorce financial specialists who are collaboratively trained and will assist both parties in locating, valuing and understanding all of the assets and liabilities necessary for a thorough financial resolution. Using one financial neutral whom both parties can rely upon for information is cost-effective and aids in the transparency necessary for trust and resolution to occur.
This person may be asked to coach one or both parties to help bring their highest and best self to the negotiating table.
Mental health specialists are psychologists, social workers, or counselors collaboratively trained to help coach or discern issues and solutions for the parties or their children. This specialist is not your therapist. The specialist is a neutral trained to assess, educate and advise. This person may be asked to coach one or both parties to help bring their highest and best self to the negotiating table.
Parenting Specialists focus on the needs of children and help the parents to formulate plans to meet those needs.
The neutral collaborative Child Specialist provides expertise in areas related to children’s needs. The Child Specialist may provide education and guidance to help parents meet the needs of their children. This may include educating parents on the developmental and emotional needs of very young children or older teenagers, for example, or the impact of separation and divorce on children of various ages. The Child Specialist can identify unique factors to consider when formulating a parenting plan and assist parents to develop different options and consider how well each option or component of a parenting plan may meet the needs of their children. When parents are provided with in-depth knowledge of their children’s developmental needs as the family changes, parents are more able to craft child-centered and sensitive parenting plans.
A Child Specialist may also come onboard to help parents with individualized family needs, such as how to support a special-needs child through separation and divorce; how to support the children’s relationship with both parents when the children are more closely aligned with one parent; or how to craft relevant and workable agreements.
Most Child Specialists are psychologists or social workers skilled in their profession and all have been collaboratively trained to work on your Collaborative Team.
Contact the professionals of your choice for compassionate, expert assistance.
Appraisers, specialty professionals (trusts, estates, oil and gas, etc.) will be called upon only with your consent and only if needed for your particular case. They will be required to be neutral in their assessments and to be transparent in their work.