Collaborative Law: An Alternative Means To An End
Divorce generally produces conflict and may leave you feeling defensive or uncertain. An alternative to such adversarial divorce proceedings is Collaborative Law.
As part of the Collaborative Law process, you and your spouse would retain separate counsel. The job of the attorneys is to assist their respective clients with producing all relevant information and to negotiate a settlement. The parties and the attorneys must be firmly committed to the Process and its protocols such as agreeing to be candid in the exchange of financial and other relevant information. The parties may even engage the services of third persons to facilitate the Process, such as a certified financial planner, mental health professional or mediator.
Aside from avoiding the uncertainty of an adversarial divorce proceeding, Collaborative Law offers at least three other benefits: (1) the parties personal matters are not aired in a public forum such as a courtroom except to prove up any Collaborative Law Agreement; (2) the parties, their counsel and any other engaged professionals develop a flexible meeting schedule to discuss the issues and negotiate a settlement; and (3) the parties learn to better communicate and negotiate with each other during the Process, which furthers the parties' skills in resolving any future issues that may arise, such as child-related issues or support issues. During the Process, the parties have the opportunity to be creative regarding parenting plans and time sharing arrangements; division of property and debts; and support issues as well as determining methods of resolving future disputes to keep the parties out of the adversarial process.
Again, the parties must be committed to the Process and its ideals. The Process may not be any easier than the adversarial process but it could prove to be more cost effective. If the parties reach their own agreement and thereby develop sound negotiating techniques and a methodology for resolving future disputes, then the parties can avoid not only the costs of a divorce trial but also future fees and costs for any enforcement and modification proceedings.
* The foregoing is not intended as legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice, please contact my office at (727) 895-5858 for a free initial consultation.