What is Collaborative Family Law?

  • Process –  Collaborative Law is the practice of settling issues with legal counsel, but without court intervention at any state.  All negotiations take place in joint conferences between the spouses, their attorneys, and any other professionals chosen to assist.  Each client has build-in legal advice and advocacy during negotiations and each attorney is committed to guiding their clients toward reasonable resolutions, crafted to meet their unique circumstances.  The attorneys cannot go to court or threaten to go to court.  Settlement is the only agenda and all involved rely upon cooperation, integrity, and professionalism.
  • The key element of Collaborative Law is that the negotiations take place in meetings where both parties and their attorneys are present.  All four sign a Participation Agreement, which commits everyone to working together, in good faith, to reach a durable, acceptable agreement.
  • The hallmark of the process is a commitment to work towards a negotiated settlement rather than resort to litigation.  Each client retains the right to withdraw from the Collaborative Law process and litigate.  If they do so, both parties’ attorneys are disqualified and the parties proceed to litigation with new attorneys.  This feature ensures a cooperative, confidential negotiating environment, where neither party uses withdrawal or litigation as a threat and the attorneys are committed to helping the clients reach an agreement.
  • Both Collaborative Law and Litigation results in an enforceable agreement or order that both parties must follow.  The difference is there is a path that is faster, cheaper, and private and a path that is stressful, lengthy, and a matter of public record.