WHAT IS COLLABORATIVE?
The Collaborative Process is team based rather than court based. This process addresses the emotional, financial, and legal issues that arise as your family transitions from one household to two. It is a voluntary process that focuses on making sure all the information you require to make decisions is available, and that your negotiations remain constructive and capture your interests. Respectful communication and full transparency are of primary importance. You and your spouse will each have your own collaboratively trained lawyer for guidance and support, and a neutral family professional and/or financial professional will also be part of your team. The whole team focuses on your goals and concerns while helping you achieve the best possible outcome for you and your children.
Most families have continuing connection post-divorce regarding finances and/or children. The Collaborative Process offers ongoing support to families if or when disagreements arise to avoid post-divorce litigation.
ROLES OF THE COLLABORATIVE PROFESSIONALS / SCOPE OF COLLABORATIVE LAWYERS’ PARTICIPATION
A. COLLABORATIVE LAWYERS
The role of the Collaborative Lawyers is to provide an organized framework and a safe environment that will optimize the parties’ ability to reach an agreement on all matters related to their case. The lawyers will assist the parties to communicate with each other and express needs, goals, and concerns; the lawyers will also identify and clarify areas of disagreement, ask questions, make observations, suggest options, and explore the practicality and feasibility of proposed solutions. The lawyers will jointly prepare a settlement agreement and other required court documents and will file all necessary paperwork on behalf of the parties to obtain a Judgment or other court order related to their case.
The Collaborative lawyers and the parties work together to reach a solution which serves the needs of both parties, and when there are children, which considers their interests and gives them priority.
Each party retains his or her own Collaborative Lawyer and that lawyer represents only the party who has retained him or her. Although the lawyers work cooperatively together within the framework of the Collaborative Process, each remains independent from the other.
The parties understand that their respective lawyer’s representation is limited to participation in the Collaborative Process. Thus, while each party’s Collaborative Lawyer is his or her advisor, counselor, and advocate, the lawyer cannot represent his or her client in any court proceeding, go with the client to court in person, or be named or remain identified as a party’s lawyer of record on any document filed with the court.
B. FAMILY SPECIALIST/COACH
The role of the family specialist is to provide a safe place for the parties to be heard. If there are children involved, the Family Specialist will help the parties understand what is going on for their children in the parents’ divorce process and provide the parties with information needed to make important parenting decisions and design a parenting plan.
C. FINANCIAL SPECIALIST
The role of the financial specialist is to help both parties clearly understand their current financial circumstances by collecting and organizing their financial information in a way that is complete and meaningful. The financial specialist is a neutral professional who does not represent the separate interests of either party and is equally available to both parties as a source of information and options. The financial specialist supports good decision-making by assisting the parties to understand their financial choices and the impact of those choices both for now and in the future.
The Collaborative Process is not just for separating couples. It is an excellent way to work through the details of a marriage contract or cohabitation agreement as well as post-divorce disputes. Discussions are focused on you and your future or ex-spouse’s interests and concerns, and the process ensures negotiations will not become adversarial.