Collaborative Law, also known as Collaborative Dispute Resolution Process – is a method whereby the parties agree to resolve their disputes without court intervention. Ideally, collaborative law allows the attorneys for both of the parties to assist the parties to resolve conflict using cooperative strategies rather than adversarial techniques and divorce litigation.
Understanding the Collaborative Law Approach
Collaborative law is a relatively new approach to divorce. Its popularity is growing across the country as both lawyers and clients are finding it useful in certain cases. The following is the basic approach in a collaborative law case.
In Collaborative Divorce clients choose specially trained collaborative divorce lawyers who are committed to a negotiated settlement.
Clients agree in advance not to go to court except for obtaining of the divorce judgment, in an uncontested proceeding.
Negotiations are conducted primarily in meetings with clients and attorneys in the room. Full disclosure and transparency is the hallmark of this process.
In the event the case does not settle, the collaborative attorneys are required to withdraw from the case and the clients choose new litigation counsel.
The Cost of Collaborative Divorce
The collaborative law process is a very good option if you are facing divorce. It might save you thousands of dollars as in this process both parties hire the same appraisers reducing gamesmanship and cost. Resolving differences in an orderly, creative and non destructive way can save you money as well as many headaches.
Although slightly more expensive than divorce mediation, collaborative law permits the parties to have meaningful involvement of attorneys who can help with technical and creative solutions, without running the risk that the situation will degenerate into a war.
In some instances it is not a good idea to choose the collaborative divorce process and doing so could result in a more costly and traumatic experience. Following is a list of reasons that you should be aware of when choosing the collaborative divorce process.
Reasons not to choose collaborative law
Domestic violence or child abuse: Any history of recent domestic violence makes it foolish and perhaps even dangerous to consider a process in which parties are required to sit in the same room.
History of Financial misconduct: In a contested divorce financial restraining orders preventing the transfer of assets can be obtained automatically upon commencement of the case. This can prevent marital assets from disappearing. If there is a meaningful concern about this kind of behavior, clients should go to court immediately.
Serious mental illness: If one party has major depression, substance abuse, or psychosis, Collaborative Law is unlikely to work, although there is little risk in trying. Often an experienced Collaborative Lawyer is the best resource a person with such a disability can have, although, there may be a need for court intervention if the party’s ability to participate in the process is seriously impaired. In that situation a court appointed “Guardian ad Litem” will be appointed to act on behalf of the impaired spouse, and in such situations, Collaborative Divorce may be difficult to pursue.
One party is not committed to the Process: For Collaborative divorce to work, both parties have to be committed to attempting to work in this fashion. If one party refuses to be transparent about disclosing information, or is using the Collaborative Divorce process as a way to delay or avoid dealing with the hard issues, then the only way to move things along so the parties can finally be divorced, is to go to court.