AREAS OF PRACTICE
Marital and Family Law



 

Collaborative Law

Collaborative family law - or collaborative divorce - is a unique process that enables couples who have decided to separate or to end their marriage to work with a team to resolve their case without any contested litigation.

This team includes their lawyers and a qualified group of professionals, including forensic accountants, appraisers, life coaches, child specialists, and other mental health professionals.
Collaborative family law is built around the idea that divorce is best handled privately, honestly, and without sacrificing anyone’s dignity. The process offers each party protection and well-rounded legal, psychological, and financial guidance without the constant underlying fear of a lawsuit. Collaborative law is founded on three law is founded on three principles:

  1. 1. A pledge not to litigate disputes in court;

  2. 2. An honest, voluntary, prompt, and good-faith exchange of relevant information without formal discovery; and

  3. 3. A commitment to strive for solutions that take into account the highest priorities of both parties and their children.

The collaborative process can be used in a broad range of family issues, including timesharing, equitable distribution, and support. The collaborative process can even be used to negotiate prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.

How does the collaborative process work?

When two parties decide to use the collaborative process, they each hire separate lawyers who are trained in the collaborative process. Once a collaborative participation agreement is signed, the parties decide whether additional professionals should be involved. Once all of the professionals are engaged, several face-to-face meetings are scheduled to exchange information, identify and address issues, and finalize settlement terms.

During the process, the parties also will have individual meetings with their lawyers and with the other professionals. Throughout the process, there is a constant effort to stay focused on problem-solving and making plans for the future, rather than on casting blame, making accusations, or living in the past.

If the negotiations fall apart and the parties prepare to go to court, the lawyers are fired, and new lawyers are hired to handle the litigation.

How is the collaborative process different from mediation?

During the collaborative process everyone participates in an open, honest exchange of information. Parties identify and correct each other’s mistakes and even out inequities. Often, parties enter into the collaborative process because they want to protect their children from the dispute. Both parties in the collaborative process use joint accountants, mental health consultants, appraisers, and other consultants, all of whom share the goal of reaching a resolution that works best for everyone involved. It’s a win-win mentality process.

Mediation usually takes place during contested litigation. It can occur before or after the parties have already been to adversarial proceedings in court and have already engaged in damaging attacks on each other. Parties may have already involved their children in litigation and may have already hired individual experts whose goal is to maximize how much their clients obtain in court or at mediation. The mediation process, although meant to encourage settlement, may still take place within the constraints of an adversarial litigation process that encourages positional bargaining and a stark win-lose mentality.

Collaborative law is not for everyone. All told, the vast majority of cases are settled, even those that go through some litigation. Because we are direct and truthful, we make sure all of our clients understand that even though many family law cases settle, settlement often happens after significant litigation has already occurred. By that time, some clients spend a great deal of money and suffer a great deal of emotional damage. Settlements are often reached under considerable tension and anxiety, and both “buyer’s remorse” and “seller’s remorse” are common.

We believe the most satisfying settlements are the ones that empower our clients to move forward with their lives without constantly fighting over the past.



Call Us Today: 813-254-8998

 


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