Participation agreements are usually signed at or before the first four-way meeting between the lawyers and clients. The basic elements of the participation agreement include the following:
- If no resolution results from the collaborative process, each lawyer will withdraw and the clients will retain other lawyers for litigation
- The parties agree not to use contentious language such as threatening to go to court during the process. They agree to try to work together towards resolution for the best interests of the family, especially if children are involved
- The parties agree to full financial disclosure. This means that both parties agree to be honest and fair in disclosing financial information.
- The parties agree that all negotiations will be on a confidential basis and will not be used later in court
- The lawyer must withdraw and let the other party’s lawyer know that the process is at an end if the client violates any of the rules above