Like Mediation, collaborative practice is an out-of-court client driven process in which the spouses avoid taking adversarial positions that often interfere with settlement. Spouses must be reasonable and respectful and have an honest desire to resolve their issues.
Each spouse must have a lawyer, who is trained in collaborative practice. While the role of the lawyer is to provide advice and advocate on behalf of their client, the lawyers work in co-operation with the spouses, and each other; collaborative practice is largely transparent.
Because of this unique working relationship, in the event that spouses are unable to come to an agreement and decide to proceed to litigation, neither lawyer may continue to assist the spouses and new counsel must be retained.
More optimistically, once spouses have reached an agreement, the lawyers will formalize it in a binding Separation Agreement.
The Right Tool for the Job
Spouses also have the benefit of involving other collaboratively trained professionals, such as divorce coaches, social workers and financial planners. Spouses may see these other professionals individually, or together, as required.
Collaborative Practice is sensitive to a spouse’s readiness to actively participate in creating solutions for their family. Often, one spouse must play emotional “catch up” when the other spouse has decided to end the relationship. A divorce coach or family professional can work through some of the emotional issues to prepare the spouse to participate in the negotiations.
Financial professionals can play a large role where a spouse is self employed, owns a business, or for older separating spouses dealing with retirement planning.
Respect and Privacy
Sessions are held in private, so details are out of the public record. The parties have more flexibility in the outcomes available to them as they are not constrained by legal limitations.
Not all family law lawyers are qualified to practice collaborative law. Lawyers and other professionals are given specialized training in principled negotiation and effective communication skills. Valerie L. Brown is available to represent you in your collaborative law matter.