Since approximately 90-95% of family cases settle without a trial, it makes sense economically and emotionally for people to settle their matters outside of the court process.
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.
If you choose to use the collaborative model, you will meet individually with your lawyer and you will meet in four way meetings. Four way meetings include you and your spouse and both of your lawyers. The lawyers act as communication and negotiation coaches for their clients and also advise their clients about their legal rights, entitlements and obligations. Everyone, including the lawyers, is focused on creating a fair and legal agreement.
A divorce coach, a child specialist and a financial specialist can be involved in the process to enhance communication and provide skilled advice on the various solutions available for the issues at hand.
Lawyers and other professionals involved in the collaborative process are disqualified from further representing clients should the matter go to court. The 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 can then work together to draft an agreement based on the outcome of the meetings.
Collaborative practice often results in creative, sophisticated solutions that best meet the needs of both parties, which could never have been arrived at in an adversarial forum. In addition, collaborative family law often improves communication and trust between separating spouses which enables more effective cooperation and co-parenting going forward.