In simple terms, the collaborative family law process is involves two clients and two attorneys, bound by a formal agreement, who use a collaborative approach to avoid submitting contested issues to the court. It is a flexible process, relying on professionals from other disciplines as you need them. This team of people works together toward one goal: maximizing the benefit to your family.
Collaborative is a unique approach founded on three core principles: a written pledge not to fight in court, withdrawal of the hired professionals if either party chooses to fight in court, and open communication between the parties.
The collaborative approach works with a team mindset. You and the other party, along with your attorneys, use the skills of mental health and financial specialists to maximize positive outcomes for the family. In addition to divorce, you can use the collaborative process in other family law matters such as paternity, annulment, legal separation, pre-marital agreements, post-nuptial agreements, non-marital relationships and same-sex relationships. The issues addressed in collaborative cases are the same ones addressed in traditional litigation cases: child custody and placement, property valuation and division, child support, maintenance (alimony), taxes, and insurance.
Consider the collaborative process if some of all of these statements are true for you:
- You want a civilized, respectful resolution of the issues in your situation
- You want education, guidance and legal advice without the risk of escalated court confrontations
- You and your partner have children together and you want the best family relationship possible now and in the future
- You recognize the importance of working through emotions to make comprehensive legal, financial and child-related decisions
- You place a high value on taking personal responsibility for handling conflicts with integrity
- You and your partner have a circle of friends and extended family in common
- You value privacy and do not want your personal or financial information available in the public court record
- You recognize that you and your partner can make better decisions about your family and finances than anyone else
- You understand that collaborative resolution involves achieving your reasonable goals and achieving the reasonable goals of your partner, rather than achieving a financial or child placement victory no matter the human or financial cost
- You value final resolution that avoids the pain and expense of having to return to court multiple times.
- Your goals include a vision for your family that extends long beyond the immediate matter at hand, into retirement for you and your partner and adulthood for the children