Collaborative Family Law Defined Collaborative Family Law is a non-adversarial process focused on getting families from dispute to resolution efficiently, and with as little financial and emotional damage as possible, while securing an agreement which addresses their common and individual interests.
Three Defining Principles of Collaborative Law Clients and attorneys agree in advance that they will not take any contested issue to court. Number One
<ul><li>Everyone can focus on settlement without distractions. </li></ul><ul><li>The team creates a “safe container” in which parties can negotiate. </li></ul><ul><li>Formal commitment to negotiate in good faith means more than informal agreement. </li></ul>Why is this Important? In the Collaborative Process … going to court is used as a hammer to force parties to agree. In traditional litigation …
Three Defining Principles of Collaborative Law Number Two The process is “transparent.” Everyone agrees to an informal exchange of all relevant information. All experts are neutral and exempt from the court process.
All Collaborative Law clients and lawyers commit to respond truthfully to inquiries, to provide relevant information to the other side, and to correct mistakes made by either side.
We find that most clients … <ul><li>Know what they have and resent having to prove what they already know through expensive discovery. </li></ul><ul><li>Can work together to gather the necessary information to resolve their case. </li></ul><ul><li>Want to spend their money on themselves and their children rather than on lawyers, so they’re willing to do homework. </li></ul>
Much of the work done in Collaborative cases occurs in joint meetings with both parties, both lawyers, and relevant team members present.
Three Defining Principles of Collaborative Law Number Three Agreements are made through a process of “interest-based” negotiation, where everyone involved is asked to find creative solutions that work for the family. Husband’s priorities Wife’s priorities Children’s needs Family’s future
Interest-Based Negotiation … <ul><li>Recognizes the parties’ common goals for their family. </li></ul><ul><li>Encourages empathy. </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledges the fact that the parties will be connected well into the future, even though they are no longer married. </li></ul>
We have learned … <ul><li>Interest-based discussions work better than positional bargaining. </li></ul><ul><li>Clients often find that they share more interests than they had realized. </li></ul><ul><li>Interest-based negotiation frees clients to work toward resolution that addresses everyone’s needs and often results in acts of generosity. </li></ul>
The Collaborative Team Husband Wife Husband’s Lawyer Wife’s Lawyer Divorce Coach Financial Neutral
The Collaborative Team is structured so that the most qualified, least expensive professional is doing what he or she does best when the services are needed.
Divorce Coaches Collaborative Law Divorce Coaches are mental health professionals who take the role of the “referee” of the team and the process. He or she will ... <ul><li>Help clients move past their positions and to their interests. </li></ul><ul><li>Keep the meetings on track and productive. </li></ul><ul><li>Meet with clients outside of joint meetings to help them resolve specific issues. </li></ul><ul><li>Manage the emotional content of the divorce. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Help “wrangle” the parties’ financial information into a usable form. </li></ul><ul><li>Create spreadsheets and cash-flow analyses. </li></ul><ul><li>Help educate clients who need help understanding their finances. </li></ul><ul><li>Create models for negotiation. </li></ul>Financial Neutrals Financial neutrals help gather information and educate clients about their financial estate. He or she will ...
Compare Collaborative Family Law and Litigation <ul><li>Litigation can be demoralizing, dehumanizing, and destructive to families. </li></ul><ul><li>Litigation is a “Blame Game.” </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative Law changes the focus from WHO is at fault, to HOW to SOLVE the problem. </li></ul>
Compare Collaborative Law and Mediation <ul><li>During caucus-style mediation, clients feel isolated and left out of the process. </li></ul><ul><li>Mediation often makes clients feel under pressure to settle in someone else’s time frame. </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative Law is an ongoing negotiation. It allows clients to vent if they need to in a safe environment, and to participate fully in the process. </li></ul>
Some things to like about Collaborative Law <ul><li>Sensitive family issues remain confidential. </li></ul><ul><li>No public court appearances are required. </li></ul><ul><li>No personal psychological or financial records go into your court file. </li></ul>Privacy
Most divorcing couples are kind, decent and intelligent people who want to maintain their self-respect and dignity. These are good people at the worst time in their lives. Often, they are not proud of their behavior. They would like to feel that they have treated their spouse fairly, done what was best for their children, and amicably resolved their differences.
Some things to like about Collaborative Law Efficiency and Self-Determination Most clients are used to controlling their lives and don’t like having to follow others’ rules, especially if the rules don’t make sense to them.
Clients say … They want to get through the divorce process as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Our statistics show … The average collaborative divorce is completed in 18 WEEKS ; the average litigated divorce takes 18 MONTHS .
Some things to like about Collaborative Law <ul><li>Paying two “hired gun” experts to come up with diametrically opposed opinions so the judge can split the difference is wasteful for the clients. </li></ul><ul><li>Hiring neutral experts helps the parties arrive at an agreement using objective standards. </li></ul>Economy
We have found … <ul><li>Child specialists </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate, tax, and estate-planning attorneys </li></ul><ul><li>Business and real estate appraisers </li></ul><ul><li>Insurance consultants </li></ul>In addition to the Financial Neutral and the Divorce Coach, the following neutral experts can be helpful:
Some things to like about Collaborative Law Future Relationships are Preserved Having to testify in court almost always assures that the spouses will be enemies.
And asking friends, business associates and family to choose sides often leads to relationship damage that can’t be repaired.
Clients prefer … <ul><li>Dealing with their spouse and his or her lawyer in an informal, respectful setting. </li></ul><ul><li>The ability to talk about ideas and feelings in a group situation without fear that their words will come back to haunt them. </li></ul>
Collaborative Law Clients get Custom Results <ul><li>Collaborative Law encourages clients to be creative in meeting the needs of individuals based on their unique circumstances. </li></ul><ul><li>The Collaborative Law process provides clients with experience they can use in future problem-solving. </li></ul>
Why We are Collaborative Professionals <ul><li>Collaborative Law clients are happy clients. We want to make a positive difference in their lives. </li></ul><ul><li>We want to change the face of divorce in this world to one where everyone wins – the clients, the professionals, the children, and society. </li></ul>