Collaborative Law

What is Collaborative Family Law? ("CFL")

More and more I talk with clients who do not want to go to Court. They do not want a long, drawn out and expensive battle. They want to be heard and have their needs met.

There are numerous benefits of Collaborative over Litigation. One of the biggest for most people is the cost. A collaborative divorce is far less expensive than traditional litigation. Also, Collaborative cases take far less time than traditional Litigation cases. Getting a case processed through the Court system can take years, ending up in a Judge deciding the future for your family. A typical collaborative case consists of approximately 4 two-hour meetings that take place over the course of two to four months and can be decided upon by the parties. Clients enjoy the control they have over how their case progress vs. traditional Litigation and having a third party decide their families' future. Collaborative cases are also far less contentious. When both parties work together to reach a resolution that best suits their families needs, it goes without saying that it is far less contentious than a traditional divorce case. All of this leads to a stress-free environment vs. a traditional Litigation case.

Face to Face communication: CFL participants agree to engage in honest, blameless, face-to-face communication with each other during four-way meetings with their lawyers. They each get a chance to describe the situation, share information, and develop options to resolve their problems. Using those options, participants work to reach an outcome that best serves each of them and their family.

Role of the lawyers: In CFL, each participant has their own lawyer. The lawyers commit to helping the parties communicate with each other openly, effectively and in good faith. Each lawyer commits to representing his or her client only through the CFL process. Neither lawyer will represent their client in court against the other party. As a consequence of this commitment, the role of the participants' lawyer is different than in the normal adversarial family law case.

Voluntary: The CFL process is voluntary. Settlement is reached only with the agreement of both parties.

In the past, most cases ended up in litigation which uses position based bargaining. Collaborative uses interest based bargaining. It entails finding out the underlying needs and interests of the parties so that everyone is left feeling heard and their needs met.

For more information, watch this video:

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Gabriela J. Matthews
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