What is Collaborative Law?
The goal or purpose of collaborative law is to offer lawyers and their clients a structured, non-adversarial alternative to an increasingly adversarial system of dispute resolution. It guarantees consumers of legal services high quality, skilled legal counsel to assist in the evaluation and resolution of a problem, without litigation. In family law, collaborative law is often used to handle uncontested divorces.

What Professionals are Involved in Collaborative Law?
Collaborative law is a team effort, involving financial advisers, lawyers, mediators, and therapists. Each individual has undergone special training for the collaborative law process.

How Does Collaborative Family Law Work?
As in traditional divorce cases, your lawyer supports you and your spouse’s lawyer supports your spouse. But in collaborative family law, both layers must also practice collaborative law. Before the process begins, all the participants – lawyers and clients – formally contract to work together to resolve your divorce issues. Both lawyers pledge not to take the case to court.

To reach a settlement using collaborative law, the lawyers initiate four-way meetings between themselves and their clients. The meetings promote improved communication and cooperation and nourish an environment that fosters analysis and reasoning. This helps generate options and creates a positive context for settlement while giving both parties control over the outcome. The commitment to continued cooperation – even if communication becomes difficult – also increases the likelihood of a solution where everybody wins.

What are the Benefits of Collaborative Law?
Collaborative law provides a cooperative, communicative setting where you can work with the other party to meet needs, reducing conflict in the future. You can schedule meetings without waiting for court dates. That means you generally spend less time and, as a result, less money to reach closure. It also means you reduce the fear and anxiety associated with court proceedings. Your issues stay within the collaborative law setting, giving you more privacy and greater confidentiality and less stress during an already stressful time.

What if We Can’t Reach a Settlement?
In collaborative law, your lawyer’s continued employment depends on the ability to design acceptable settlement options. That means if the collaborative law process proves unsuccessful or either party wants litigation, both lawyers must withdraw from the case. They will then help their clients find trial lawyers and will work to make a quick, efficient transition. Although your lawyer will refund any unused fees, your new lawyer may require a separate retainer fee.

How Do I Begin a Collaborative Law Case?
If you are looking for experienced legal counsel and skilled advocacy but do not want litigation, collaborative law is an excellent option. An attorney trained in collaborative law practices can assist you, but only if the other party agrees to follow the collaborative law process.