What is Collaborative Family Law?
Collaborative Family Law is a dignified, cooperative approach to negotiating and settling the issues arising from a family separation without going to court. Separated spouses, with the assistance of specially trained family law attorneys, negotiate their issues, as they define them, in a controlled, safe, and respectful setting. While the meetings are structured negotiations between the spouses and their lawyers, the environment is one that is less formal and threatening than court. These “Four-way Meetings” allow the spouses to explore together their issues, as they define them, in their voices.
The Lawyers act both as communication / negotiation coaches for their clients, and simultaneously fulfill their typical role of advising their clients about their legal positions, entitlements and obligations. The parties focus on effectively communicating to gather facts and discover each other’s interests. Emotional tactics, threats, or abusive communications are all identified, discussed and eliminated. The lawyers, having agreed not to take part in any litigation that may occur if an agreement isn’t reached, efficiently focus their time and effort solely on settlement, rather than posturing or preparing documents or themselves for court. Everyone, including the lawyers, is focused on creating together a stable, fair, legal Agreement that works for “this family”.
Is your first thought “my spouse and I can’t communicate about anything, so how would this process work for us?” Well this approach is a method of negotiating. It is a highly specialized method of negotiating that was developed specifically for the emotionally-charged, complex and nerve-wracking negotiations that must occur when one or both members of a family decide that they can no longer, for whatever reason, live together.
Both collaborative lawyers help you and your spouse to:
- Find and focus on your common interests;
- Understand each other’s concerns;
- Exchange information;
- Explore a wide range of choices; and
- Reach solutions acceptable to both of you
In the Collaborative Family Law Process both clients will:
- Treat each other with respect;
- Listen to each others’ perspectives, interests and concerns;
- Explore all possible choices
- Focus more on the future than the past
What is a Collaborative Law Team?
- Depends on the needs of your family
- Could consist of professionals from legal, mental health and financial planning fields
- The professionals work together by providing their expertise to the parties and the process
- The team must all be trained and subscribe to the collaborative guidelines
This team work approach generally takes much less time and money. All parties involved must sign a contract agreeing not to go to court, which fosters hope for a settlement without the threat of court dangling over them.