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Collaborative Practice

What is Collaborative Practice?

Collaborative Practice (also known as Collaborative Law or Collaborative Divorce) 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 Law 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 Law practitioners, was passed in the District of Columbia in 2012, in Maryland in 2014, and in Virginia in 2021. 

Is a Collaborative Process right for my situation?

Consider a Collaborative Law process if you:
  • believe it is important to protect your children from the harm of an adversarial court-based process
  • 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 constructive solutions for the entire family
  • want to create and preserve a respectful relationship with your partner after the divorce 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, parenting, and support – is put “on the table” in these sessions. Separating partners benefit from the skills, advice, and support of their attorneys and other collaborative professionals while striving to resolve their issues in a constructive, future-focused manner.
What are the advantages of a Collaborative Process?

You retain control.   Though you each have a lawyer, you and your partner 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 partner 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 Law process usually is less costly and time-consuming than litigation. Your agreement can be finalized expeditiously rather than waiting months waiting for a court date.  If you are married, you can obtain a divorce usually within two months of signing an agreement.

You negotiate a better settlement.   Every family is unique and deserves unique solutions to the issues faced during separation and divorce. The collaborative process allows you to “think outside the box” and to fashion more creative results than those handed down 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 relationship, but by reducing stress, working in a climate of cooperation, and treating each other with respect, you and your partner can create an environment in which you and your children can thrive moving forward.

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