What is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative law is a less adversarial pre-litigation process that involves the two spouses and their attorneys working together to try to negotiate and resolve divorce issues in an environment that seeks to encourage civility and respect from all participants. The Collaborative Law process is an alternative to litigation and mediation that employs less adversarial techniques to achieve a resolution of issues.
If you have interested in learning more about the Collaborative Law, attorneys at the Orshan, Spann & Fernandez-Mesa can provide compassionate support and the legal representation you need.
Four Way Negotiations
In the Collaborative law process, you and your spouse each hire your own lawyers (and interdisciplinary teams) and execute an agreement that memorializes the participants’ agreement to stay out of court, act in good faith throughout the process, and voluntarily disclose all financial and other relevant information. You conduct settlement negotiations with your attorneys and other experts by your sides — usually during four-way meetings in which the lawyers act as advisors to the clients instead of taking charge of the process. If you can reach a resolution, an agreement will be drafted and signed to conclude your case. However, if you are unable to resolve your dispute through the Collaborative Law process, the attorneys from both sides must withdraw, and neither your lawyers nor any member of their firms, may represent you in divorce litigation. The attorneys will then assist their respective clients in transitioning to litigation counsel. This approach is meant to encourage all participants to commit to reaching a reasonable settlement.
In addition to the attorneys who represent their respective clients, the collaborative approach may use interdisciplinary teams working together to help the family through the divorce process. Team members may include coaches for each spouse, financial specialists such as forensic accountants, valuation experts and real estate appraisers and child specialists such as child psychologists and other mental health professionals.
Possible Advantages of Collaborative Law
The advantages of collaborative law may include:
It may limit emotional damage to clients and their children that can occur through an adversarial litigation process. The process seeks to avoid hostilities and anger that occurs when litigants are locked in combat over child related and financial issues.
You might shorten a process that could otherwise last a longer period of time, depending on the parties’ desires to expeditiously resolve their issues.
There may be financial savings; in collaborative law, if a settlement is reached, the cost to complete the process is usually less expensive than the cost to engage in traditional adversarial litigation.
Ultimately, the Collaborative Law method works if both you and your spouse can work together to achieve a resolution of your case. Instead of creating bitterness and acrimony, the Collaborative Law method aims to create a renewed respect for – or a better understanding of – your soon-to-be former spouse and a general feeling that the agreement was a job well done. The Collaborative Law approach seeks to achieve a fair, prompt, efficient and positive settlement that works for both parties. Most negotiations end in agreement because of the determination of all participants – including the lawyers – to reach that goal. If you fail to achieve an agreement, the more traditional litigation process will then be pursued.