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Collaborative Divorce


 


There is a movement in family law whereby divorcing couples can sign agreements with lawyers to not go to court. More specifically, the process is known as Collaborative Family Law (CFL) and the agreement to not go to court is binding upon the lawyers, not the couple. If one or both clients are unsatisfied, either may still march the dispute to court. They will however have to find new lawyers.

At heart, the CFL process seeks to develop consensus between the parties for a mutually acceptable settlement. The settlement can include the division of assets, spousal or child support and/or the ongoing care of children.

In the CFL process, while the couple retains separate collaboratively trained lawyers, they then retain a single financial advisor and/or child expert and/or divorce coaches who form a team with the lawyers and clients. The financial advisor, child expert and divorce coaches act as consultants within a team framework. Because each party has their own lawyer though, they are assured their respective legal rights are preserved. Certainly the disposition of the lawyers is one of settlement as litigation is openly off the table. The risk of conflict is reduced in favor of improving the probability of settlement.
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Collaborative law is a new way to resolve disputes by removing the disputed matter from the litigious court room setting and treating the process as a way to "trouble shoot and problem solve" rather than to fight and win.

As part of the collaborative law method, both parties retain separate attorneys whose job it is to help them settle the dispute. No one may go to court. If that should occur, the collaborative law process terminates and both attorneys are disqualified from any further involvement in the case. (Click here to continue)


The divorce process often starts with an attorney, a mediator or a financial planner. An attorney provides legal advice and can assist you if you decide to litigate your case. A mediator can help you and your spouse negotiate a settlement, thus bypassing litigation. If a mediator also happens to be an attorney, he or she can provide legal advice, but most often will provide legal information only. A divorce financial planner provides financial advice but not legal advice. He or she can help you understand the financial realities of your situation, helping you to make financially sound decisions. The planner will often refer a lawyer or mediator to help you resolve your situation.
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Collaborative Family Law offers divorcing couples a new approach to untangling marriage. The traditional approach has family lawyers settle disputes with at least the threat of litigation. Collaborative Family Law takes the threat of litigation out of the equation to concentrate on helping the parties settle between themselves yet with legal support. Litigation is not an option. Lawyers practicing Collaborative Family Law report more satisfaction with this form of practice and believe that negotiated settlements leave the parties more intact as individuals and as parents.

Along with the new approach to settling disputes, there is a new role for those professionals who would otherwise practice divorce mediation or provide custody and access assessments. (Click here to continue)


In the Collaborative Law process, the parties and lawyers sit round table to share information and over time, reach consensus on solutions. In the process, the lawyers role model appropriate problem solving behavior which may be instructive to the parents for managing future disputes between themselves. Whereas each lawyer in a traditional dispute would enlist their own set of professionals, those practicing Collaborative Law have begun to see other professionals as team members or consultants to the collaborative process. The role of the various consultants is to provide information to the lawyers and parties about the likely outcomes of various courses of action. From there, it remains a matter of negotiation for the parties to arrive at a solution. While it may be an expensive series of meetings, on an overall basis, negotiated settlements tend to be far less expensive than those litigated. The added benefits are reportedly better ongoing relationships and more durable agreements. (Click here to continue)




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