Collaborative Law Facts and Tips
Sometimes called Collaborative Divorce, collaborative law offers cooperative divorcing spouses a way to end a marriage without litigation. Like mediation, collaborative law is a form of alternative dispute resolution. The two spouses and their lawyers participate in direct four-way negotiating sessions. The collaborative lawyers act as negotiators and provide guidance and legal advice to their clients.
What is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative law is a voluntary, contractually based alternative dispute resolution process for parties who seek to negotiate a resolution rather than having a ruling imposed upon them by a court or arbitrator. The parties agree that their lawyers’ representation is limited to representing them solely for the purposes of negotiation, and that if the matter is not settled, new lawyers will be retained. The lawyers and the clients agree to engage in good faith negotiation, share relevant information, use of joint experts, respectful communications, and the confidentiality of the negotiation process.
Why Collaborative Law?
The collaborative negotiations preserve emotional reserves and money squandered in litigation. From the start, the divorcing spouses agree to not go to court or threaten to go to court during the collaborative negotiations. They agree to voluntarily make a complete disclosure of necessary financial information. Fees and legal costs are controlled by party agreement. The anger and bitterness often found in a traditional divorce does not happen, and family bonds and relationships can be maintained during and after the divorce.
Who Should Collaborate?
Divorcing spouses should consider collaboration when:
Collaboration Designed for No Trial in Mind
A collaborative law settlement is geared from the start to make negotiations creative, respectful collective problem solving. It is quicker, less costly, more creative, more individualized, far less stressful, and overall far more satisfying in its results than most conventional adversarial settlement negotiations.
When One Spouse Doesn't Want to Collaborate...
Collaborative lawyers must resign if one party terminates the agreement. Requiring the collaborative lawyers to resign protects the confidentially of the collaborative meetings.
The Uniform Collaborative Law Act
The Uniform Collaborative Law Act regulates the use of collaborative law, a form of alternative dispute resolution. This Act standardizes the most important features of collaborative law participation. The Collaborative Law Act has been enacted in Nevada, Texas and Utah and introduced in Alabama, Hawaii, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
Collaborative Divorce is Faster and Cheaper
A collaborative divorce is cheaper, and generally moves faster, than a litigated divorce. According to the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas, instead of a typical 18-month, $14,000 process through litigation, a collaborative divorce takes an average of 18 weeks and $9,000 to complete.
Spouses Must Be Honest
In a collaborative regime, the agreement requires a lawyer to withdraw if his or her client is being less than fully honest, or not acting in good faith. For instance, in the case of a client who alters or withholds documents, or who delays the negotiations for his or her gain, or who fails to make good on promises, all would argue that the collaborative process has failed.
No Guarantee of Perfection with Collaboration
In a collaborate routine, as in all legal processes, perfection is not guaranteed. A dishonest spouse who wants to conceal assets can sometimes succeed, because the time and expense involved in investigating concealed assets can be high and the results uncertain. Divorcing spouses must have a level of trust in each other to make collaborate law work for them.
Resources & Tools
COLLABORATIVE LAW -- Sometimes called Collaborative Divorce, collaborative law offers cooperative divorcing spouses a way to end a marriage without litigation. Like mediation, collaborative law is a form of alternative dispute resolution. The two spouses and their lawyers participate in direct four-way negotiating sessions. The collaborative lawyers act as negotiators and provide guidance and legal advice to their clients.
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