- When one party decides on a Collaborative practice divorce, each of the parties must hire a Collaborative Attorney.
- First party’s attorney sends letter and information about the collaborative approach and the list of attorneys to the other party.
- Parties and Attorneys sign Participation Agreement.
- Series of 4-way meetings with parties and attorneys – other professionals when necessary (Realtors, therapists, etc).
- Participants in collaborative practice communicate through joint meetings, telephone conference calls, and email transmissions. In joint meetings, husband, wife, attorneys, and any other collaborative professionals working on the case sit around a table together, discuss the issues, and seek ways to reach agreement. The issues, concerns and needs of all family members are put on the table for full consideration by each member of the team.
- Full exchange of all information relevant to the issues.
- Reached agreement – Joint Petition, Waiver of 90 days, Certificate, Order – provisions regarding Child Cope class.
- Unable to reach agreement – parties hire new attorneys to complete divorce in the conventional adversarial process.
What if my spouse has already filed papers with the Court – can we still choose collaborative law?
Absolutely! Attorneys for the couple can ask the court to have the case placed on “inactive” status while collaborative process continues. How do you keep everyone from fighting?
Collaborative professionals are trained to help clients deal with their emotions in joint meetings and conference calls. They understand how to help clients express authentic hopes and needs effectively. They ask questions that keep the conversation focused on mutually acceptable, workable outcomes.
Collaborative professionals also model appropriate behavior. Instead of confronting others in the room, they establish an atmosphere of mutual respect and ensure that everyone present sustains that respect throughout the process.
Why must one party's lawyer resign if the other side decides to go to court?
The requirement that all lawyers be disqualified in the event of a breakdown guarantees that all participating counsel will be totally and exclusively motivated to make the process succeed. Thus, all participants are equally and fully invested in finding the solutions to all problems. More subtly, it is believed that the way people participate in negotiation, and especially the way lawyers participate, is affected by the certainty that that lawyer will never litigate the case. Openness, candor, and cooperation replace guardedness, secrecy, and threats as the techniques most likely to achieve ultimate success. Walking out in anger, or provoking the other side to, ceases to be a viable tactic.
How is Collaborative Family Law different from mediation?
Mediation involves the use of a third party neutral in facilitating the negotiation and settlement of a dispute between the parties. Parties can always walk out of mediation and proceed to litigate. In Collaborative Family Law cases, lawyers and their clients will talk and negotiate without the assistance of a third party neutral, unless they find such an intervention would be useful. They are committed to continuing the dialogue until a satisfactory solution is reached since litigation is not an option.