Collaborative Law is a new form of alternate dispute resolution that offers divorcing parties the opportunity to reach an agreement without hurtful litigation. It is a method of resolving divorce issues with the participation of a lawyer for each party. By contract, both parties and both lawyers agree not to litigate. If negotiations break down, the lawyers are disqualified from representing their clients in litigation. The lawyers work cooperatively to structure the process and facilitate settlement.
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Collaborative law is a new way to resolve disputes by treating the process as a way to "trouble shoot and problem solve" rather than to fight and win. Under the collaborative law method, both parties retain separate attorneys whose job it is to help them settle the dispute. As long as the collaborative law process continues, no one may go to court. Should the parties decide that they want to go to court, the collaborative law process ends and both sides are required to find new attorneys for the litigation.
In the Collaborative law each party signs a contract requiring:
Disclosure of Documents.
Each party will openly and honestly disclose all related documents and information. Neither party is allowed take advantage of a miscalculation or an inadvertent mistake and any errors must be identified and corrected.
Each party will act respectfully and avoid disparaging or vilifying any of the participants.
As part of the process all participants agree to protect the children from the proceeding and to try to minimize the impact of the divorce on them.
The parties agree to us outside experts where necessary in a cooperative manner while sharing the costs related to those experts. (e.g. real estate appraisers,
appraisers, parenting consultants, vocational evaluators, or accountants)
The goal of the process is to work toward an amicable solution and to create a "win-win" situation for all.
Neither party is allowed to seek or threaten court action to resolve disputes. If the parties do decide to go to court, the attorneys must withdraw and the parties must start fresh in the court system.
Collaborative law process recognizes that emotional issues exist that cannot always be addressed by the legal system. The collaborative law process specifically addresses the emotional issues as well as the legal issues by bringing them to the forefront and using professionals as part of team approach to find solutions. A team of professionals can be assembled to help the parties understand and resolve their disputes in many different contexts. The disputes maybe legal disputes or emotional and include: mental health counselors/ coaches for each party, neutral financial advisors, accountants, parenting specialists, child specialists, vocational experts, and appraisers, if needed.
Another area that collaborative law can be beneficial is in dealing with children. A child specialist may play a very important role in the process. So often, children become the unintended victims in divorce proceedings. They often blame themselves for their parents’ divorce and the breakup of their family. A child specialist can work with children of divorcing parents. It is their job to help the children understand that the divorce is not their fault and to teach them how to talk with their parents about what is happening and how they feel. In this way, the children have a voice in the proceedings and become part of the team process.
Financial professionals can also be helpful as part of the collaborative process. In the court process there are often redundant appraisals performed by one expert for each party. The end result is a duplication of services at greater cost and with increased distrust. This can result in an expensive war of experts at trial. In the collaborative process, the parties together select a neutral appraiser. With a trust relationship established, the parties agree on some division of cost and agree to be bound by the appraised value.
Collaborative law will certainly not work in every case. However, if it is a process they you are interested in, we have experienced attorneys who are more than happy to help you through the process.
Law Office of Joseph M Annutto, PLLC
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