My practice is founded on the premise that most people want to resolve their family law matter without going to court. The consequences of a litigated divorce can be unintended and destructive to the parties’ lives and the children. The collaborative law separation and divorce focuses on settlement with the whole family in mind. Lawyers advocate for their client by helping their clients to have a voice in the process with a focus towards reasonable, practical solutions. While most litigated cases settle, it is the path to settlement that can take a toll on the family. In the first installment of Collaborative Law 101, I discussed five key features of the collaborative law process. After reading, you may still be trying to decide whether the collaborative process is the right choice. While the introductory post on Collaborative Law gives you a sense of what collaborative law really means, in this post, I’ve focused in one some key reasons that collaborative law is a wise choice.
- The parties retain control.
Each person retains his or her own collaborative lawyer who is trained and experienced in the collaborative process as well as in family law. The case proceeds through a series of four-way meetings attended by both spouses and their attorneys. Other professionals, such as a child specialist or financial neutral are often brought into the process to work with the parties using a team approach to gather, understand and evaluate information. The clients have a say in every step of the decision-making process. The focus is on settlement from the beginning with the expectation that constructive, respectful efforts will be made by the parties and their attorneys to develop mutually acceptable solutions. In this setting the steps are specifically take to identify and honor the values, principles and goals of the parties throughout the process. The expectation is that each party and the professionals involved on the team will be respected. In the courtroom environment, it often becomes a win-lose mentality that can overshadow the parties’ initial intentions and worsen the relations between the parties. The practice of collaborative law looks to a “win-win” for both parties and the children.
- The collaborative process offers a supportive environment.
Although each party is represented by his or her own attorney, the collaborative process allows both parties and the attorneys to work together in reaching a final agreement. The parties benefit from the collaborative attorney’s experience and problem-solving skills with the focus and negotiations being on the present and the future rather than the past. Additionally, the collaborative process also allows for involvement from other professionals, such as a neutral financial professional and/or a child specialist (if children are involved) to provide further insight into the issues at hand and support in arriving at solutions that are suited for each unique situation. This team of professionals works together with the parties to create a durable and practical agreement.
- Collaborative law puts the focus on a mutually-beneficial agreement.
Collaborative law focuses on a mutually beneficial agreement, achieved with the help of the collaborative team (as mentioned in #2) working together with the parties. Utilizing a non-adversarial process allows the parties expand the available options to resolve all of the challenging issues that are presented by each family situation.
- Collaborative law is an opportunity to set a positive tone for the future.
Separation and divorce is not easy in the best of circumstances. Careful thought should be given to the process choice in order to reduce stress, where possible. Because the collaborative process focuses on a mutually beneficial agreement achieved through respect and a supportive environment, it can also serve as an opportunity for the parties to set a tone of mutual respect and open communication for the future, which allows for the entire family to thrive.
- The children need a secure parenting base.
The collaborative law process provides the right support for parents to find a way to build a stable, secure life following a separation and divorce. The process provides a basis for the parents to pay attention to the individual needs of each child and to work on plans that protect the children from adult tensions and conflict. A child specialist can be brought into the team process as a neutral consultant to help determine the best interest of the children. This leads to a better settlement.
More information on resolving family law matters through the collaborative law can be obtained by making a request through the website: www.deborahwaynelaw.com.