Existing mid way between litigation and mediation, collaborative law is a form of alternative dispute resolution for couples going through a divorce that can help in avoiding parental alienation. Although separate counsel represents each spouse, and the attorneys act as advocates for their clients, the collaborative process requires that both parties agree to settle their differences in a non-adversarial environment. In cases where the parties cannot reach an agreement, both attorneys are required to resign from the case, and the parties must hire new attorneys to bring the matter before the court.
What Does the Collaborative Process Entail?
To begin the collaborative divorce process, the spouses and their attorneys sign a “Participation Agreement” that requires the husband and wife to:
- 1 – Disclose all financial information: Both parties will exchange all relevant documents regarding their finances.
- 2 – Maintain confidentiality: The proceedings will remain private so that both parties can freely express their feelings.
- 3 – Respect the parties involved: Both parties agree to behave in a respectful manner during the process.
- 4 – Protect the children: All parties agree to safeguard the children from the divorce proceedings
- 5 – Share outside professionals: The parties agree to implement and share the costs of outside specialists to consult on issues that include: finances, property, parenting, etc.
- 6 – Create a written agreement: The spouses agree to create a written agreement on all issues pertaining to the family law matter.
- 7 – Obtain a divorce decree: Both parties will authorize their lawyers to use the written agreement to obtain a final court decree.
The Advantages of Collaborative Law
When divorcing spouses utilize the services of attorneys who are skilled in collaborative law, the lawyer’s work with both parties to reach a settlement agreement in a respectful environment. The collaborative process often creates more detailed agreements that would be issued by a judge, and when both parties are committed to working together in a cooperative manner, this alternative process can offer a more cost effective alternative to litigation. The goal of collaborative law is to avoid the anguish associated with contested courtroom proceedings, and to create an agreement that establishes a positive outcome for both parties and the children involved. Using collaborative law, the parties are often able to create a respectful and business like relationship that will allow them to separate and jointly parent their children in a harmonious way.
High Profile Clients and Collaborative Law
Collaborative law is also suitable for high profile divorcing couples who not only require experienced legal counsel and skilled advocacy, but who may also benefit by using a private and confidential approach. Using collaborative law, the parties never have to appear in court and their privacy is protected.