Collaborative law is a process where couples, and their lawyers, agree to settle their differences without the courts or threatening to litigate. This is accomplished by everyone signing an agreement to work together in a cooperative or collaborative fashion, to iron out all the details that need to be settled in a divorce (or other family law issue such as spousal support, child support, or custody). Compliance with collaboratively made agreements is higher than settlements or orders that emerge from litigated divorces. What this means is that the need for future litigation and court processes are less likely for people that go through a collaborative divorce than a litigated case. Couples that go through a collaborative case can often stay friends, even after they are no longer married. The stress on the children of divorcing couples is minimized in this method.
A usual first step for someone interested in a collaborative law divorce is to find a collaborative law attorney that they wish to use on the case. I happen to be a Long Island collaborative divorce attorney, although I work all over the area. A lawyer that is properly equipped to work on a collaborative law case should have substantial matrimonial law experience. The lawyer should have undergone extensive collaborative law and mediation training as well. One sure way to find a lawyer that has the right credentials to work on a collaborative law case is to select one that is a member of the New York Association of Collaborative Professionals. Member lawyers have been screened to ensure that they have the right background and training to handle a collaborative law case.
The lawyers do not use adversarial methods in this process. Clients have the benefit of being represented by a lawyer at all times. Some people feel that they need the representation and advice of a lawyer through the whole divorce process, which they might not get in mediation. The parties in a collaborative case however have decided that they do not want to battle in court as is often a part of the traditional litigation model. The lawyers that work on the collaborative case are not permitted to continue on the case if later there is litigation. This helps to ensure that everyone is committed to the collaborative process. The professionals that work on the case are able to deal with the legal, financial and emotional aspects that are part of a divorce. For people who are not interested in an adversarial divorce, collaborative law could be the alternative approach they are seeking. Continue reading →