Collaborative Practice is a way for people to respectfully resolve disputes. Unlike a traditional, litigated divorce, the Collaborative Process is private, cooperative, and efficient. Clients work to resolve their concerns outside of court with the help of a team of collaboratively trained attorneys, communication coaches and financial professionals who work together to find options that will serve the interests of all clients and their family. If there is to be a continuing relationship after the divorce, the goal is to create
the possibility for a positive one.
Collaborative Practice began in the late 1980s and has spread across the United States, Canada, and internationally. Although it has primarily developed in the field of family law, Collaborative Practice has expanded into other areas of law such as probate and general civil practice.
Because these disputes are legal in nature, clients will need Collaborative attorneys as part of their team. Clients continue to build their team by adding appropriate non-legal professionals: typically parenting and communications coaches, neutral financial professionals, and neutral child specialists. Clients may add other professionals as needed, such as vocational and real estate experts.
In the Collaborative Process, clients and professionals agree to:
- work respectfully and in good faith to gather all information needed to reach resolution
- produce all necessary information and documents voluntarily and in a timely fashion
- focus on educating all participants about the underlying information, each client's interests, and possible solutions.
Hiding documents and unnecessary delays are not permitted. Clients do not engage in expensive legal procedures to obtain information and do not use outside decision makers. Clients and their Collaborative Attorneys sign an agreement that expressly prohibits going to court during the time they are working towards settlement, and expressly prohibits the attorneys from representing the clients in any future adversarial proceedings between them.
The Collaborative Process takes place through a series of regular meetings where both clients and their professionals discuss the issues, make any necessary interim arrangements, plan for information gathering, brainstorm options, and then negotiate, draft, and implement their agreement. A safe environment is carefully created in these meetings to enable difficult conversations to occur with good results.
People choose Collaborative Practice because it allows them to be fully involved and to maintain control over their case, the building and participation of their team, and client-centered decision-making. They have the full support of their attorneys and communication coaches and financial professionals, which helps them to make well-informed, creative, and appropriate decisions. It allows clients to find solutions often not possible in litigation.