Collaborative Law is a structured settlement process in which the parties and their respective lawyers agree in advance that no one will take any contested issue to court. The group, which often includes mental-health and financial professionals, focuses all its attention on finding ways to restructure a family so that everyone involved gets their needs met to the greatest extent possible.
Collaborative Law operates from the perspective that most people want to move through family law matters as quickly and efficiently as possible. Most people do not want to harm their spouse or children; they just want to change their situation from the way it is to something they believe will work better. Collaborative Law eliminates much of the strategic game playing that often accompanies litigation, as well as the ill will that is created when one person has to win and the other has to lose. In the unlikely event that clients are not able to settle their cases using the Collaborative Law model, litigation attorneys can still take the case to court.
Collaborative Law takes the best part of mediation and combines it with the best part of the litigation model. Each client still has the benefit of an advocate who is working just for them, so each one is fully informed about his or her rights under the law. But everything in the Collaborative Law model – from the first meeting to the final agreement – is done for the purpose of helping the clients find ways to resolve their case in the way that works best for them. Information is freely exchanged, and when outside information is needed, it’s collected by agreement.
But just because a case isn’t going to be heard by a judge does not mean that coming to an agreement will be easy. Even with all the support the Collaborative Law model provides for clients, they still have to work hard to come up with terms are acceptable to everyone. Collaborative Law requires that everyone involved keep their commitments and behave in a way that allows the parties to feel that they have a safe place to negotiate.
Jennifer Tull is a leader in the Collaborative Law movement and has successfully guided hundreds of clients through this process. If you would like to learn more about Collaborative Law, click below and contact The Law Offices of Jennifer Tull to schedule an appointment.
No court or threat of court for contested issues
Spouses are free to seek creative solutions
Formal discovery is replaced with open sharing of all relevant information
All experts are neutral
Sessions are private, scheduled at times that are convenient for everyone, and go at a comfortable pace
Specially-trained professionals help the process be efficient and productive
Everyone involved has a built-in financial incentive to settle the case
No one can force another person to participate in the Collaborative Law process, or to act in good faith
Clients with serious mental health issues or unaddressed chemical addiction may not be capable of participating in Collaborative Law to the extent necessary to reach a settlement using this model
Clients must change lawyers if they can’t settle through Collaborative Law