Collaborative Practice is conflict resolution in a respectful and mutually agreed-upon process. Rather than turning the decision-making power over to a judge or other third party, control of the collaborative solution is kept with the people directly involved in the dispute. When issues about children are part of the dispute, their needs are placed first. Clients and their attorneys are at the heart of a working team which often includes mental health, financial and other professionals as needed to provide information and help clients explore a variety of solutions. The clients don`t sign an agreement until each of them is comfortable with it.
Collaborative Practice offers couples a humane and solutions-based approach to conflict resolution. Collaborative Practice differs from conventional adversarial representation in three important respects:
- The parties pledge in writing not to go to court.
- Face‑to‑face discussions between the parties and their lawyers leads to an agreement.
- A respectful, problem‑solving approach, often with the assistance of trained financial experts, child specialists and communications coaches, replaces the often adversarial process of conventional divorce or estate sharing.
Is it for you?
All family disputes are highly personal matters, and no one approach is right for everyone. Many families, however, have found that Collaborative Practice is a welcome alternative to the potentially destructive aspects of the conventional adversarial legal process. To determine if Collaborative Practice is right for you, ask yourself if these values are important:
- Maintaining an atmosphere of respect, even in the presence of disagreements.
- When the parties have children, prioritizing their needs.
- Listening objectively to your family member’s needs, fully expecting that your own needs will be given equal consideration.
- Working creatively and cooperatively to solve problems and address concerns.
- Seeing beyond the frustration and pain of the present moment to plan for the future.
- Behaving in an ethical manner toward your family members.
- Keeping control of the legal process with you and your family, and not relegating it to the court system.
- The ability to keep your dispute confidential.
If you can affirm these basic principles, it is likely that Mediation or Collaborative Practice would be a viable option for you. Talk to us for a more in‑depth determination based on your individual situation.
The advantages of being Collaborative.
Designed as an alternative to conventional divorce, Collaborative Practice offers many distinct advantages:
- You keep control of the process yourselves, without going to court.
- Children’s needs are given priority.
- You and your family commit to reaching agreement through a problem‑solving approach.
- An atmosphere of respect preserves self esteem.
- Open communication allows both of you to express your needs for moving forward and gives you new tools for effective problem‑solving in the future.
- There is full disclosure of facts and information.
- Face‑to‑face meetings in the presence of lawyers make negotiations direct and efficient and allow for mutually created resolutions.
- The Collaborative process helps you plan for your own future and that of your family.
Something everyone should agree on: respect.
Collaborative Practice was first developed by divorcing individuals and other concerned professionals who assist them, Collaborative Practice is the alternative to “divorce as usual”. It is designed to minimize the hurt, the loss of self esteem, the anger and alienation that occur too frequently with divorce.
This process has been so successful in the divorce field that it is now being used in family disputes over estates.
The Collaborative philosophy is built on a belief in human dignity and respect. Individuals may cease being partners, but they don’t cease being worthy human beings. Every part of Collaborative Practice—from open communications to solutions‑based negotiation to out‑of‑court settlement—is intended to foster respect. When respect is given and received, self esteem is likely to be preserved, making discussions more productive and an agreement more easily reached.
The end of a marriage or relationship, or the death or a parent or loved one, is tragic enough. Collaborative Practice believes that the process of resolving legal matters shouldn’t add to the pain, but rather help the spouses and children foresee a hopeful future.
How it works
Once you have chosen Collaborative Practice, you may take advantage of the option to put together a team (recommended) to work with you as you make your way through this life transition. While you will always need to select Collaborative lawyers to assist you throughout the process, you may also choose to start the process with a Collaborative communications coach or financial expert. Wherever you begin the process, you will have a chance to meet privately and together with your team of professionals. Collaborative Practice is unique in that it calls for both of you, and your lawyers, to come together for face‑to‑face discussions and negotiations—outside the courthouse. In an atmosphere of openness and honesty, all assets are disclosed, needs are communicated, and solutions are explored. When there are children, their interests are given foremost priority.
The end result of Collaborative Practice is a divorce agreement that has been achieved through mutual problem solving. You, along with your lawyers and other chosen collaborative professionals, take control of shaping the final agreement, rather than having a settlement imposed on you by the court.