What Is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative law (also called collaborative practice) is a legal process enabling couples who have decided to separate or end their marriage to work with their lawyers and, on occasion, other professionals in order to avoid the uncertain outcome of court and to achieve a settlement that best meets the specific needs of both parties and their children without the underlying threat of contested litigation. The voluntary process is initiated when the couple signs a contract (called the "participation agreement"), binding each other to the process and disqualifying their respective lawyer's right to represent either one in any future family related litigation.
The collaborative process can be used to facilitate a broad range of other family issues, including disputes between parents and the drawing up of pre and post-marital contracts. The traditional method of drawing up pre-marital contracts is oppositional, and many couples prefer to begin their married life on a better footing where documents are drawn up consensually and together.
Three Key Elements
- The voluntary and free exchange of information.
- The pledge not to litigate (go to court) and withdrawal of both attorneys and other team professional if either party litigates.
- A commitment to respect both parties’ goals.
The collaborative practice can also be applied to disputes involving employment law, probate law, construction law, real property law, and other civil law where continuing relationships exist after the conflict has been resolved.