Frequently Asked Questions
We have made it easier than ever to find answers to your questions in collaborative law.
Collaborative law is a process in which both parties are represented by lawyers trained in collaborative law, but the parties and their attorneys agree, in writing, to attempt to settle the matter without court or even the threat of going to court. They promise to take a reasoned stand on every issue, to work together informally and cooperatively, and to negotiate in good faith. If either party seeks intervention from a court, both lawyers must withdraw from representing their clients. All parties involved therefore have a stake in seeing the process through if possible to do so.
Collaborative law allows parties to negotiate with a lawyer at their side, enjoying the benefit of a lawyer’s knowledge and expertise, but without the imminent risk of the case proceeding to court and the parties thus losing control over the outcome. The downside of this approach is that, if negotiations fail, the parties will be back to “square one”, and will have to deal with additional delays, and be put to the additional expense of hiring new counsel. The upside is that those potential costs provide a powerful incentive for the lawyers and clients to negotiate productively.
On average, collaborative law cases tend to be less expensive for both parties than cases handled without collaborative law. This is particularly true when collaborative law is compared to cases resolved in court. However, each case is different and must be assessed independently.
In a collaborative law process, each party’s lawyer has an absolute duty to represent his or her client’s interests. There is no difference in the ethical obligations to which your lawyer is bound, whether or not they represent you collaboratively or in litigation. What is different about collaborative law, however, is that the lawyers involved take responsibility for advancing their client’s interests in settlement, and commit their focus to finding a mutually agreeable solution.
Collaborative law is not appropriate for every case and every situation. Collaboration cannot succeed unless both parties are committed to participating.
Collaborative law is not appropriate for every case (Click here for a comparison of collaborative law with other dispute resolution methods). For a great many cases, however, collaborative law provides a lower-cost, less adversarial, and more expeditious path to resolution.
Children are frequently caught in the middle of separation and divorce. Children often lack a meaningful choice in the disputes of their parents. It is the obligation of parents to decide what is in the best interests of their children when a separation takes place. However, many separated parents have difficulty working together to achieve this goal, though both parents may genuinely believe that they are pursuing that which is in the children’s best interests.
The Collaborative process offers parents a different way to proceed. It allows parents to take charge of the process from the very beginning, with the assistance of a team of lawyers and third-party professionals who are present to assist in crafting a blueprint for the future that is child-focused. By ensuring that both parents involved have an equal voice and an equal role in the creation of this plan, it is far more likely that the plan which is crafted will be accepted and followed by the parents who are then responsible for living by it. These agreements tend to stand the test of time and result in cooperative co-parenting rather than constant post-separation litigation.