Collaborative family law is a client-centered process for negotiating and settling issues related to separation and divorce outside of court. Separated spouses, with the assistance of specially trained family law lawyers and other specialists, negotiate their outstanding issues in a structured and respectful setting.
Going to court can have large financial and emotional costs. It makes sense for people to try to resolve their issues without going to court.
If you choose to use the collaborative model, you will meet individually with your lawyer and then you will meet in four-way meetings. Four-way meetings include you and your spouse and both of your lawyers. The lawyers help with communication and negotiation, and provide advice about legal rights, entitlements and obligations. Everyone, including the lawyers, is focused on creating a fair legal agreement.
A divorce coach, a child specialist and a financial specialist can be involved in the process to improve communication and to provide skilled advice.
Lawyers and other professionals involved in the collaborative process are disqualified from further representing clients if the matter goes to court. The collaborative process involves the parties giving binding commitments to voluntarily disclose all relevant information, to proceed in good faith and not to threaten litigation during the process.
Once the parties come to an agreement, the lawyers work together to draft an agreement based on the outcome of the meetings.
Collaborative practice often results in creative, unique solutions that best meet the needs of both parties, solutions that could not have come out of an adversarial process. In addition, collaborative family law often improves communication and trust between separating spouses, which enables more effective cooperation and co-parenting going forward.