It two simple words: collaborative family law means no court. It also means no courtroom drama, no orders handed down by the judge, no emotional breakdowns and much lower attorney fees. Main Features of Collaborative Family Law are: 1) No court; 2) Full Disclosure; 3) Joint Neutral Experts; and Four-Way Conferences.
No Court-Participants in Collaborative Family Law approach negotiations differently than those involved in litigation. There is no litigation posturing and no ball hiding. Both sides want to reach the best resolution of their family. Not all divorcing or splitting parties are good candidates for this process. The animosity must be low and desire to cooperate and be civil must be high.
Full Disclosure-Information gathering process is open and honest, which greatly reduces, if not eliminates all together, ball hiding and posturing.
Joint Neutral Experts-Some negotiations require the help of professionals such as child psychologists, tax specialists, accountants, real estate appraisers, business/pension valuators, and others. Family law litigation often requires the same experts. The main difference between collaborative family law and family law litigation is that there are no separate experts retained by each party. All experts are hired jointly and their conclusions are neutral.
Four-Way Conferences-This is how most collaborative family law cases reach settlements; both parties and their respective attorneys get together to discuss the issues and negotiate a resolution. This sometimes happens in family law litigation cases where cases are referred to a court-appointed mediator right before the hearing takes place to see if the mediator (daily settlement officer) can help the parties and their lawyers resolve disputes. The difference is time. The daily settlement officer has limited time and no prior knowledge of the case. Four-way conferences in collaborative family law can be as lengthy as required to go over all the issues, documents, expert conclusions.
In a divorce, if both spouses are committed to a compromise and not a battle, collaborative approach may be a good option. Our firm represents clients going through a collaborative law process.