Collaborative law is a new kind of dispute resolution with a structured, cooperative out-of-court approach. It is geared toward cooperatively and amicably settling divorces among parties who agree not to go to court. It takes away the desire to fight and win in a courtroom setting. Instead, the objective is to reach a settlement that both parties find satisfactory.
Couples may wish to consider collaborative divorce for the following reasons:
It’s important to note that if a collaborative divorce settlement is not reached, the parties may pay more than they would have if they had litigated the case from beginning to end. This is because they took the additional effort to resolve the case through a collaborative effort. They also may find that they spent more time reaching a settlement if their collaborative efforts fail initially for the same reason.
The main principle of the collaborative divorce process is to amicably resolve the parties’ differences regarding property, support (child and alimony), and custody in a safe atmosphere outside of court. The basic process is as follows:
Both parties along with their attorneys are present at collaborative divorce meetings. The role of the attorney is different than in courtroom settings. The purpose of your attorney is to provide support and to aim to come to an agreeable settlement as opposed to going toe-to-toe against the other party’s counsel. In rare cases, a mediator may also be present at the collaborative meeting.
During the collaborative session, major issues are hashed out, such as:
In a collaborative meeting, the parties are encouraged to discuss things freely and openly in order to come to a mutually agreeable settlement on their own terms.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement after a good faith effort to do so, they are free to continue litigation in court. The participation agreement does not prevent the parties from terminating the process in order to litigate the matter, but they must not make threats of litigation during collaboration efforts.
If either party terminates collaborative meetings, he or she must provide written notice to the other party and to all attorneys stating an intent to withdraw. The collaboration agreement usually contains termination provisions that dictate how this should be done.
The clients are advised from the beginning that will have to obtain new lawyers if they cannot reach an agreement and choose file for divorce hearings in court.
If you are filing for divorce and believe collaborative law may lead to the best settlement agreement, you should contact an attorney with collaborative family law experience to discuss the process and your legal options.
Last Modified: 10-05-2017 10:01 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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