• What is the Collaborative Law
The basic attitude marking collaborative law is of solving the problem,
not fighting the fight. Simply stated, it is treating the process
as a way to "trouble shoot and problem solve" rather than
to fight and win. Some people look upon the civil justice system
as a place to resolve a dispute they have with another. Collaborative
law is what they're looking for.
• What areas
of the Law are prime for Collaborative Law?
While many areas of the law are good candidates for Collaborative
Law, it is most commonly, at this time, used in Family Law cases.
• Why should
retaining Collaborative Lawyers should be considered?
This process is generally less costly and time-consuming than litigation.
You are a vital part of the settlement team.
All parties are supported by their lawyers and yet they work cooperatively
with the other parties
and their lawyer(s) in resolving the issues.
The process is much less fear and anxiety producing than utilizing
Court proceedings or the
threat of such proceedings.
Everyone can focus on settlement.
The possibility exists that the participants can create a climate
that facilitates "win-win" settlements.
The proceeding is much less time consuming. It can be finalized
within a short time following
the parties reaching agreement, rather than getting bogged down
for many months
waiting for a court date.
You control the proceedings - your destiny is in your hands rather
than In the hands of a third
party (the courts).
• How does
Collaborative Law work?
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While no two situations are alike, the emphasis in the approach
is to find a way in which the lawyers can work with the parties
that will achieve a satisfactory settlement in an efficient, cooperative
manner. This might include "four-way" settlement conferences
where the parties meet with their collaborative lawyers to work
on a settlement. Basically, however, your collaborative lawyers
should be committed to finding ways to achieve settlement that will
work best in your case. Their philosophy is that as much effort
should be exerted toward settlement as is traditionally spent in
preparation for and conducting a trial.
• What is
the difference between Collaborative Law and mediation?
In mediation, there is one "neutral" who helps the disputing
parties try to settle their case. The mediator cannot give either
party legal advice, and cannot help either side advocate its position.
If one side or the other becomes unreasonable or stubborn, or lacks
negotiating skill, or is emotionally distraught, the mediation can
become unbalanced, and if the mediator tries to deal with the problem,
the mediator is often seen by one side or the other as biased, whether
or not that is so. If the mediator does not find a way to deal with
the problem, the mediation can break down, or the agreement that
results can be unfair.
Collaborative Law was designed to deal more effectively with all
these problems, while maintaining the same absolute commitment to
settlement as the sole agenda. Each side has quality legal advice
and advocacy built in at all times during the process. Even if one
side or the other lacks negotiating skill or financial understanding,
or is emotionally upset or angry, the playing field is leveled by
the presence of the skilled advocates. It is the job of the lawyers
to work with their own clients if the clients are being unreasonable,
to make sure that the process stays positive and productive.
• What Types
of Family Law disputes can be resolved with Collaborative Law?
Collaborative law can be used for any dispute. It has been used
the most often in the family law arena to resolve disputes related
Divorce, Legal Separation or Annulment
Child Custody/Parenting Plans
Visitation and Visitation Disputes
Child Support, Daycare Costs and College Tuition
Division of Property
Division of Debt
Break-up of Same Sex Partnerships
• How do
I begin the process?
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It takes two willing participants to effectively use the collaborative
law process. Since Collaborative law is a relatively new process,
your spouse may be reluctant to agree without proper education regarding
the benefits of the process.
Schedule a meeting with your spouse to discuss Collaborative Family
Law and share the information from this Web site. If you are currently
unable to meet with your spouse to discuss the matter, present the
proposal to use collaborative law in written form.
Review and choose from the list of dedicated collaborative law attorneys
practicing law in your state.
Meet with your attorney to discuss your case and the details of
Most collaborative law divorces begin with a meeting between counsel
and parties to sign a joint collaborative law agreement.
• What kind
of information and documents are available in the Collaborative
Both sides sign a binding agreement to disclose all documents and
information that relate to the issues, early and fully and voluntarily.
"Hide the ball" and stonewalling are not permitted.
• What happens
if one side or the other does play "hide the ball," or
is dishonest in some way, or misuses the Collaborative Law process
to take advantage of the other party?
That can happen. It also can and does happen in conventional legal
representation. What's different about collaborative law is that
the collaborative agreement requires a lawyer to withdraw if his/her
client is being less than fully honest, or participating in the
full good faith.
For instance, if documents are altered or withheld, or if a client
is deliberately delaying matters for economic or other gain, the
lawyers have promised in advance that they will withdraw and will
not continue to represent the client. The same is true if the client
fails to keep agreements made during the course of negotiations.
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