What is Collaborative Practice?
Collaborative Practice (also known as Collaborative Law) is a highly successful alternative to the adversarial court-based model of resolving disputes - particularly when the parties have a need or a desire to maintain a relationship beyond the conflict to achieve dignified closure. Designed to minimize conflict while working toward a mutually acceptable resolution, the Collaborative Process creates an atmosphere where the participants and their attorneys agree to make good faith attempts to reach a settlement without going to court. Frequently, the involvement of other professionals such as divorce coaches, child specialists and financial advisors are used. Working together as a team, the participants strive to resolve the dispute in a way that addresses everyone’s legal, financial, and emotional needs. The Uniform Collaborative Law Act, which provides clear standards of practice for collaborative dispute resolution, was passed in the District of Columbia in 2012, and in Maryland in 2014.
Is Collaborative Practice Right For Me?
Consider Collaborative Practice if you:
- believe it is important to protect your children from the harm of litigation
- see the need to disclose full and accurate information about financial issues
- place a high value on personal responsibility in resolving conflict
- are able to focus on a positive solution for the entire family
- want to preserve a respectful working relationship after the process is over
How does it work?
First, both spouses meet with their respective collaborative attorneys to discuss individual needs and concerns. Then, the participants and their attorneys, and any other needed professionals, engage in a series of meetings designed to reach a settlement without involving the court. Every relevant issue – including property division, custody, and support – is put “on the table” in these sessions. Divorcing parties benefit from the skills, advice, and support of their attorneys and other collaborative professionals while striving to resolve their issues in a positive, future-focused manner.
What are the advantages of Collaborative Practice?
- You retain control. Though you each have a lawyer, you and your spouse primarily are responsible for shaping the terms of the settlement as the key members of the team.
- You gain support. You develop the settlement cooperatively with your spouse while benefiting from your attorney’s experience and problem-solving skills.
- You can focus on settlement. Removing the threat of litigation reduces anxiety and fear, thereby helping you focus on finding positive solutions.
- You get more from your resources. The collaborative process usually is less costly and time-consuming than litigation. When you reach an agreement, it can be finalized within a shorter time frame. The resolution is not delayed months waiting for a court date.
- You negotiate a better settlement. Every family is unique and every family deserves a unique solution to the issues raised in a separation and divorce. The collaborative process allows you to “think outside the box” and to fashion more creative solutions than those that would be issued by a judge after a contested court proceeding.
- You create the framework for a better tomorrow. There is no pain-free way to end a marriage, but by reducing stress, working in a climate of cooperation, and treating each other with respect, you and your spouse are creating an environment in which you and your children can thrive moving forward.