1. Key Elements to the Collaborative Process
Participants voluntarily and freely exchange information and pledge not to go to court. If someone decides to go to court then the participants, lawyers, and other professionals such as the family coach and financial persons involved in the process are required to withdraw from further participation. The parties then start over with new lawyers. Participants commit to respect each other and work towards shared goals.
2. The Difference between Collaborative Process and Mediation
Mediation involves an impartial third party who assists the negotiations and tries to help you both to come to an agreement. Mediators should not give legal advice or be an advocate for either side. Participants may consult with their lawyers during or between mediation sessions. If mediation results in an agreement, the mediator prepares a draft of the settlement terms for review and editing by both parties and their lawyers.
Collaborative Process includes both the parties and their lawyers along with a financial neutral and family coach. The Collaborative Team helps to manage and reduce conflict and keep the focus on resolution. Collaborative Lawyers, who have training similar to Mediators, work with their clients and one another to assure a balanced process that’s positive and productive.
Both Collaborative Process and Mediation rely on the voluntary, complete exchange of information as well as a commitment to resolutions respecting each other’s goals. If mediation does not result in a settlement, you may choose to continue with your same lawyer when you go to court.
In Collaborative Process, the lawyers and parties sign an agreement aligning everyone’s interests in resolution. It specifically states that the Collaborative Process Lawyers and other professional team members are disqualified from participating when you go to court if the Collaborative Process ends without reaching an agreement.
3. The Collaborative Team
A Collaborative Team is the combination of legal professionals as well as a neutral financial professional, divorce coaches, a child specialist and or other specialists who may also be helpful. This “Collaborative Team” will provide guidance and support as problem-solvers, not as adversaries. The focus for the Team should be on the interests of the participants and not positional bargaining.
4. A Different Approach
In a regular divorce case, parties often rely upon the court system and judges to resolve their disputes. Unfortunately, many people often come to view each other as adversaries, and court cases may become a battleground. The resulting conflicts take an immense toll on emotions—especially the children as well as the family finances.
Collaborative Process is by definition a non-adversarial approach. Collaborative Process Lawyers pledge in writing not to go to court. They negotiate in good faith, and work together to achieve resolution outside the courts. Collaborative Process is designed to ease the emotional strains of a breakup, and foster the well-being of children.
5. Reducing Hostility in Family Disputes and Separation
The guiding principle of Collaborative Process is mutual respect and resolution. This respectful tone encourages participants to show compassion, understanding, and cooperation. Collaborative professionals are trained in non-confrontational negotiation, helping keep discussions productive. The goal of Collaborative Process is to build a settlement on areas of agreement, not to perpetuate disagreement.
6. The Nuts & Bolts of Collaborative Process
If you decide on a Collaborative Practice divorce, both sides hire their own Collaborative Practice lawyer;
everyone agrees in writing not to go to court;
you meet privately and in face-to-face talks with your lawyers;
additional experts, such as divorce coaches and child and financial specialists, join the process or are perhaps the first professional that you see;
meetings are conducted and designed to produce an honest exchange of information and clear understanding about needs and expectations, especially concerning the well-being of children.;
mutual problem-solving by all parties leads to the final divorce agreement.
7. The Pace of Collaborative Process
Every family is different as is every Collaborative Process case. Your situation and circumstances may determine how quickly your divorce process proceeds. Collaborative Process can be more direct and efficient than a regular divorce court case. Focusing on problem-solving rather than blame and grievances may create the opportunity to strive for respectful results. Full disclosure and open communications enables participants to cover issues and concerns in a timely manner. Further, if participants are able to settle out of court, there is no wait for the multiple court dates and the associated delay which often occurs in regular court cases.
8. A Focus on the Future
Divorce and separation may represent both an ending and a beginning. The Collaborative Process helps people anticipate and plan for a smoother transition to the next stage of their lives.