Disclosure of Documents.
Each party agrees to honestly and openly disclose all documents and
information relating to the issues. Neither spouse may take advantage of a
miscalculation or an inadvertent mistake. Instead, such errors are
identified and corrected.
Each party agrees to act respectfully and avoid disparaging or vilifying
any of the participants.
As part of the process all participants agree to insulate the children from
the proceeding and to act ins such a way as to minimize the impact of the
divorce on them.
The parties agree to implement outside experts where necessary in a
cooperative fashion and share the costs related to those experts. (eg. real
estate appraisers, business appraisers, parenting consultants, vocational
evaluators, or accountants)
The primary goal of the process is to work toward an amicable solution and
to create a "win-win" situation for all.
Neither party may seek or threaten court action to resolve disputes. If the
parties decide to go to court, the attorneys must withdraw and the process
begins anew in the court system.
One of the biggest differences in the
Collaborative law process is that it recognizes that emotional issues exist that
cannot be addressed by the legal system. How often have you heard stories of
divorcing parties spending thousands of dollars in legal fees to argue about
pets or furniture that has limited monetary value. Generally speaking, the
parties in such cases are not arguing about dogs, cats or furniture. Instead,
they are reacting to psychological pains that they experiencing These
emotional issues that are ignored in the Court process. By contrast, the
collaborative law process specifically addresses these issues by bringing them
to the forefront and using professionals as part of team approach to find
A team of professionals
is assembled to help the parties understand and resolve their disputes in many
different contexts. The disputes may be legal disputes or emotional and
include: mental health counselors/coaches for each party, neutral financial
advisors, accountants, parenting specialists, child specialists, vocational
experts, and appraisers, if needed.
A child specialist may play a very important
role in the collaborative process. So often, children become the unintended
victims in divorce proceedings. They internalize the conflict and often blame
themselves for the break up of their family. The child specialist works with
children of divorcing parents. It is their job to assist the children in
understanding that the parental dispute is not their fault and to teach them how
to cope and communicate with their parents. In this way, the children have a
voice in the proceedings and become part of the team process.
Financial professionals may be used to help
define values of assets. In the litigious court process often redundant
appraisals are performed by one expert for each party. The end result is a
duplication of services at greater cost and with increased distrust. this often
results in an expensive war of experts at trial where each expert
testifies regarding their different valuations. In the collaborative process,
the parties choose a neutral appraiser that is not associated with either
party. With a trust relationship established, the parties agree on some
division of cost and agree to be bound by the appraised value.
Most Cases Settle. The Statistics state that
more than 90% of all divorce cases are resolved without a trial. In the Court
system that resolution often comes more than a year after the divorce was
commenced and after many hurtful statements have been made part of the public
record in the form of affidavits and motions. Doesn't it make more sense to
seek that resolution before the bridges are burned and the missiles are launched
in a courtroom? Certainly, collaborative law will not work in every case.
After all, it takes two to tango and it takes two willing participants to
effectively use the collaborative law process. However, in the cases where
collaborative law has been used, even if reluctantly, there have been more rapid
settlements at a fraction of the normal cost associated with divorce.