What is Collaborative Law?

In the collaborative law process, each spouse hires his or her own lawyer, and the lawyers work with each other and the spouses to draft an amicable agreement for everyone.

Unlike litigation, when the judge controls the outcome, the spouses and their lawyers control the outcome in collaborative law.

Additionally, the process can extend past just the spouses and their lawyers to include experts and professionals who will provide additional guidance.

As your attorney and advocate, we will use our financial background to help you resolve all division of property, alimony, and child custody and support issues as you work towards an agreement.

What is a participation agreement?
The spouses and their lawyers sign a participation agreement before the start of the collaborative process to signal their agreement to the terms in collaborative law.
In the participation agreement:

  • Both spouses agree to share all financial information upfront and provide all supporting documentation.
  • Both spouses agree that should one decide to pursue litigation or threaten to go to court, the collaborative process immediately ends. Should that happen, both lawyers will immediately terminate working with their client, and both spouses will have to find new attorneys.

Why collaborative law?
Collaborative law is a practical alternative to expensive litigation fees in a process that usually only has one winner. It is different than mediation in that it allows each spouse to have their own individual lawyer to confide in.

  • You can obtain support and expertise from a wide range of professionals
  • It can be a quick process
  • It protects families and relationships
  • It fosters personal responsibility
  • It allows the clients to control how the family emerges post-divorce

Who should consider using collaborative law?
Collaborative law works best for couples who are considering separating or getting a divorce or parents who are determining custody for their children.

How does the collaborative law process work?
During the first meeting, both spouses sign the participation agreement and disclose all financial information and supporting documents in the spirit of cooperation and trust.

A series of joint sessions will take place that include both spouses and their respective lawyers and all other hired professionals. Everyone present will discuss the issues and work towards creating an agreement that is amicable for both spouses and any affected family members.

One lawyer will then draft an agreement, which will be reviewed by both attorneys and their clients to ensure it is agreeable. The agreement will then be sent to the court for approval. After the document is approved, the agreement stands as a legal document.

Who pays for collaborative law?
Each spouse pays his or her own lawyer, based upon the individual lawyer fees. Other professionals retained jointly should be paid for jointly. Both spouses will need to communicate and work out a fair way to share these expenses.

What if we don’t reach an agreement?
Per the participation agreement, both lawyers will immediately pull out of the process, forcing each spouse to hire new attorneys should they decide to proceed with litigation.

Litigation, though more expensive, provides resolutions to disputes that cannot be solved through combined efforts and shared communication. Litigation can solve matters of divorce, separation, alimony, child custody, child visitation and child support.

To learn more about how we can help you resolve your divorce using collaborative law, contact us today.

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