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What is Collaborative Family Law?
Collaborative family law is a new kind of alternative dispute resolution which involves a structured and cooperative out-of court approach to divorce problem solving. In the family law setting this involves parties in a legal dispute working with their attorney's in a positive, results-focused environment. This type of law involves working out property and support issues without stepping into a courtroom or filing divorce papers.
What is the Collaborative Law Process?
The bedrock principle of collaborative law is that parties work out their differences regarding property, support, and custody in a structured and amicable atmosphere. Different methods are used to achieve this amicable atmosphere. They are as follows:
- Amicability agreement is signed: The intent to be amicable is manifested by the parties signing an agreement which promises that both sides will use good faith and fairness in negotiating a resolution to the divorce proceedings. The agreement also promises that there will be full disclosure of all important documents relevant to the divorce.
- Attorney/client adherence to fundamental collaborative law principle: As part of the overall agreement, the parties also agree that if either party abandons the collaborative law process in favor of traditional litigation, then the collaborative law attorneys must also withdrawal from the divorce process. This means that new attorneys will have to be hired should either spouse wish to pursue other methods of litigation.
- Neutral setting requirement: All meetings must take place in a neutral location like a neutral office or meeting space.
- Freedom to discuss: All parties are allowed and expected to openly bring up any matters which ultimately lead to the most positive resolution of the problems involved.
- No neutral third parties are involved in negotiations: Unlike other traditional alternative dispute resolution procedures collaborative law does not involve a "neutral third party" who involves themselves in the negotiations.
- Attorney role changed: Unlike other methods of dispute resolution even though collaborative law attorney represent their clients best interests, attorneys here are meant to be present more for support and encouragement than to drive the negotiation process.
- Use of neutral third party witnesses: Parties may only bring in unbiased neutral third party witnesses to verify accounting, valuations, support obligations, and property divisions.
What are the Advantages of the Collaborative Law Process?
Many couples that involve themselves in the collaborative law process often find the process to be much less expensive and much less time consuming than traditional methods of dispute resolution or divorce proceedings. It should be noted that should parties abandon the collaborative law process the overall cost may end being more expensive in the long run.
Should I Contact a Collaborative Law Attorney?
If you are considering filing for divorce, or are currently involved in a divorce, support, custody, or property division dispute, and believe that collaborative law may offer a positive resolution to your situation, you should contact an attorney with collaborative family law experience to discuss the process and your legal options.
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Last Modified: 05-12-2014 04:39 PM PDT
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