Below are some questions frequently asked about Collaborative Law.
Click the questions for some of the most commonly asked questions.
What is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative Law is a process in which the parties contractually agree that they will that they will not to go to Court. While this may at first sound limiting, the actual result is that the parties and the lawyers are not tempted to threaten to “go to Court if you don’t do what I want,” and they draw on all their creativity to develop their common interests, goals and options. The result is almost always an agreement that is much more satisfactory to the clients than if they had gone to Court. The fundamental basis for collaborative law is “interest-based negotiation” vs. “position-based negotiation,” which is the basis of the litigation system. Collaborative law is private. You will not have to air your "dirty laundry" in a courtroom.
Why is Collaborative Law So Successful?
Collaborative Law is so successful because, with the help of trained collaborative lawyers, a collaboratively trained communications coach and financial planner, the parties are given the tools to negotiate an agreement between them that is custom to their family and their divorce. Neither party will enter into any agreement without it being acceptable to them. Of course, this does not mean that each party is 100% satisfied with every element of the agreement, but they are satisfied with the compromises they have made to reach a total agreement. This is a striking contrast to the Court or jury having only a small window of time to learn all about the parties, their children, and their issues. In most cases, unfortunately, the result in Court was not as satisfactory as when the parties have been able to work on their agreement in the collaborative process. The basic philosophy is different in that, unlike in litigation, where there is almost always a “winner” and a “loser,” in Collaborative Law cases, the parties feel that together they have developed a “win-win” for both parties and certainly for any children of the relationship.
What are The Mechanics of the Collaborative Law Process?
Each lawyer, clients, the communications coach, and financial planner meet in “joint sessions.” In between the joint sessions, the parties meet with the communications coach and financial planner to work on the clients’ interests, goals, and case options. In cases involving children, some parties also engage a child specialist to assist in developing a parenting plan that will be the most beneficial to the children. This process is actually less expensive because the parties are able to develop their interests, goals, and options with either the communications coach or the financial professional (at a much lower hourly rate than the attorneys). Fewer joint sessions are needed and the cases settle more smoothly and more cost effectively. When the joint sessions resume, the parties are prepared to enter into a final agreement. One party files a petition in their family law matter or the parties file a joint petition with the district clerk’s office. In a divorce, this filing starts the “running” of the 60-day waiting period. Then, the parties, their attorneys, and the other professionals will assist in the development and drafting of an Agreed Decree of Divorce or whatever other order is applicable in their family law case, and that Decree or order will be presented to the Court after all parties have agreed to all its terms and signed it.
What is the Cost of Collaborative Law Compared to Traditional Litigation?
The cost of negotiating a case in the collaborative process is often less expensive than in a traditional case, whether settled out of Court or tried by a judge or jury because the parties are in complete control of how much time is needed to satisfactorily negotiate and settle their case. If the issues are limited, some cases can be resolved in two or three joint sessions. In other cases, if the issues are more complex property issues or children’s issues, it may take longer. However, most everyone involved in collaborative law would agree that if a case is handled in the collaborative process it will be less expensive and less time-consuming than if it “goes to Court,” to be decided by either a judge or a jury. A number of cases with limited issues have been settled in the collaborative process for a total cost of no more than $7,500.00, including the cost of both attorneys, the communications coach and the financial planner.
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