Collaborative Family Law

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Collaborative Family Law

Collaborative family law is a form of alternative dispute resolution. It helps couples use an out-of-court problem-solving method in order to resolve family law related legal issues and financial matters. The use of attorneys in collaborative law matters is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended.

The collaborative law process is not available in every state, but more states are passing laws that allow couples to consider alternative dispute resolution techniques, like a collaborative divorce.

What is a Collaborative Divorce?

A collaborative divorce is where couples work to settle their disputes in a less formal setting rather than let a judge determine the outcome of important issues. It is essentially a hybrid between a traditional divorce and a mediation. With a traditional divorce, the judge is a complete stranger to the parties involved, he or she may only hear a few hours of testimony and then render a decision. With a collaborative divorce, the parties have more freedom to speak and express their position on important issues.

One key aspect of the success of a collaborative divorce is to have parties who are willing to communicate. Without that, the process won’t work. Both spouses need to keep an open mind and be willing to negotiate. They are willing to hear what the other side has to say, which means the chances of settling your divorce can increase significantly.

The Collaborative Divorce Process

The process typically begins with each side hiring their own collaborative divorce attorney. Your attorney in a collaborative divorce acts like one in a traditional divorce. It is still the attorney’s job to keep the best outcome for his or her client, which means a collaborative divorce attorney can only represent one client.

Both parties and the attorneys are required to sign a contract, called a “participation agreement” that confirms their commitment to utilize the techniques in collaborative divorce rather than fight and argue to resolve outstanding issues.

The process continues with a series of meetings between the parties and can include a variety of professionals if necessary. Commonly retained experts can include:

● Mental health professionals
● Financial professionals
● Child specialists
● Forensic accountant
● Real estate expert

If an agreement cannot be reached through the collaborative family law process, both divorce attorneys will have to end their representation. One of the standard terms with collaborative divorce is that both parties have to retain new attorneys if the process doesn’t end in a settlement agreement.

From there, both parties will continue on with the case through the family law courts with the new attorneys.

Benefits of Collaborative Divorce

One of the main benefits of a collaborative divorce is the ability for both sides to have more control over the outcome of their divorce. In addition, there are cost benefits to collaborative divorce. With traditional divorce, you hire separate experts whereas with a collaborative divorce, both sides share the costs to hire one expert. Your divorce is also more private since not everything that happens is being entered into the court record, subject to a public records search.

Retaining a Collaborative Divorce Attorney

If you have questions on collaborative divorce or need a lawyer, contact 1-800-Family-Law and let us refer you to a skilled family law attorney near you.