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Collaborative Law

Mission statement

We are committed to a client-centered process that focuses on the legal, emotional and financial elements of divorce and allows couples to negotiate in an environment free from the threat of litigation.

What is collaborative law?

Collaborative law is a new way for divorcing couples or any couple with family-related issues to work as a team with trained professionals to resolve disputes respectfully, without going to court. The team approach utilizes an attorney for each side, both of whom have been specially trained in the Collaborative Model, two “coaches,” one for each party, one financial neutral, and one child specialist if children are involved. A contract is signed by all parties that prohibits the parties from going to court. Should the collaborative process fail, the attorneys must withdraw and the parties will find new counsel.

Early studies are just being published that establish the effectiveness of a collaborative approach. Anecdotally, lawyers and clients are reporting that it can be quicker, cheaper and less painful than a typical divorce. Best of all, the collaborative approach helps all the family members come through the divorce with the least amount of trauma and distress. Because the parents aren’t fighting, the children adjust better.

Collaborative divorce may not be a viable option in certain situations. If there is domestic abuse, drug or alcohol addiction, serious mental illness or an intention to hurt the other party emotionally or financially, traditional litigation may be more appropriate. Collaborative law differs from mediation. In mediation the mediator is a neutral third party who doesn’t represent either side, though each party usually has a lawyer available to consult with throughout the mediation process.

The costs of collaborative law are generally similar to those of contested litigation. The Collaborative philosophy is built on a belief in human dignity and respect. Individuals may cease being partners, but they don’t cease being worthy human beings. Every part of Collaborative Practice — from open communications to solutions-based negotiation to out-of-court settlement — is intended to foster respect. When respect is given and received, self esteem is likely to be preserved, making discussions more productive and an agreement more easily reached.

The end of a marriage or relationship is tragic enough. Collaborative Practice believes that the process of divorcing shouldn’t add to the pain, but rather should help the spouses and children foresee a hopeful future.
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