What is a streamlined collaborative law divorce?

The Long Island contingent of the New York Association of Collaborative Law Professionals has been making a push to start implementing streamlined protocols in order to further save time and expenses to divorcing couples that have chosen to work collaboratively. Collaborative law is an alternative to litigation, but unlike mediation, each party has the representation of trained professionals that make up the team in this non-adversarial divorce process. Typically, the team includes each party having their own collaboratively trained attorneys, divorce coaches, and one financial neutral although the necessary professionals can vary from case to case. As a New York City, Long Island and Nassau County Collaborative Divorce Lawyer, I believe in the collaborative law process. I am pleased that we are now using the streamlined initiatives here on Long Island. I want to use this blog entry to reiterate why collaborative law is the gold standard for divorces and as an opportunity to talk about the streamlined collaborative divorce process.

Collaborative law is the gold standard for divorces. Everyone works together to stay out of court and to work with a team of well trained professionals equipped to deal with the legal, financial and emotional aspects of dissolving a marriage. Parents put their children first in the process. The process is designed to help a couple safely and sensibly transition into two independent households. Collaborative law is a moral and honorable way to divorce with integrity. Most importantly, the process works to resolve issues and get couples to agree.

The streamlined process essentially is broken down into four phases. Phase one is putting the team together. Phase two is information gathering. Phase three is brainstorming options and reaching agreements. Phase Four is moving on with the rest of your life, your new story!

During the first phase, each client retains their own collaborative lawyer and coach. The good news about hiring myself or any other member of the association is we have a network of attorneys, financial professionals, and mental health professionals that meet and work together already.   We regularly meet to help refine the Collaborative Law process here on Long Island, New York City and the surrounding areas. We can provide a list of other professionals for our clients to help them speak with and choose the other professionals for the team. We can even provide a list of other members of our group that our client’s spouse can use. Since this is a collaborative process and we work together, it helps that we know and regularly work with other members of the group already. The same is not true in litigation which is an adversarial process.

The various team members each have a role that aid in the smooth progression of the case. As a lot of time and work is taken away from the lawyers in the streamlined process by other professionals that traditionally bill at slightly lower rates, it ends up being a money saver for collaborative cases. Once the team is assembled and preparatory meetings initiated, the case can move forward to the next phase.

The information gathering phase consists of meetings with the divorce coaches and the financial specialist. Depending on the particular case there may be a child specialist or other professionals as discussed and agreed to by everyone involved with the case. Usually an initial financial report and parenting plans are prepared at this phase. After the information gathering process the case is ready to move to the last phase before finalization.

Phase three is brainstorming options and reaching agreements. Clients meet with their lawyers and coaches to prepare for the full team meeting. At the full team meeting brainstorming for the division of assets and debts, parenting plans, child support and maintenance if any is done. Options are explored and agreed upon to help the family transition into post-divorce life. Settlement documents are drafted, reviewed and executed. The documents are then filed with the court to finalize the divorce.

After a collaborative law divorce, people move on with their lives with dignity after having worked together to make the best possible plan for themselves moving forward. Post judgment disputes are rare in collaborative cases. Compliance and future issues are often a problem in litigated cases.

Please click around my blog and website for more information about collaborative law, mediation, and other family law matters. Feel free to pick up the phone as well. It would be our pleasure to speak with you.

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