Collaborative Law FAQ
How does the collaborative process differ from mediation?
In mediation, a neutral third party facilitates negotiations between the clients without court intervention. The mediator will present a framework of the law to the participants but must refrain from giving legal advice to either party. The couple assumes a greater share of the responsibility to navigate their emotions and needs, while the mediator supports the parties in reaching a reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement.
In the collaborative process, each spouse has their own attorney present during the four way negotiations to provide built-in legal advice and advocacy during the negotiations. This is especially beneficial for a couple that may need more support or guidance than a neutral mediator can provide.
What is the role of the attorney in the collaborative process?
Attorneys who practice collaborative law have been specially trained in non-confrontational negotiations and work with clients, other attorneys, and professional specialists, to promote an atmosphere of respect, dignity and open communication during the settlement process. The parties will meet individually with their attorneys but all substantive issue discussions and negotiations take place in four way meetings. The attorneys and their clients work with each other as a collaborative team to promote mutual problem solving by the clients so that the final agreement reached is fair, equitable and acceptable to both spouses.
How long does the collaborative process take?
The collaborative process focuses on problem-solving, not blame or criticism, and therefore is more direct and efficient. Furthermore, because there is full and complete disclosure and open communication, the meetings are productive and meaningful. The length of time of the process is dictated by each couple’s situation but generally most collaborative divorces can be completed within a framework of four to six months, including the preparation of the divorce judgment.
How much does the collaborative process cost?
The collaborative process is significantly less expensive both monetarily and emotionally than traditional litigation or court-based divorce. Most couples are able to reach agreement on their specific issues within four to five two hour meetings. The total cost includes the preparatory time for the client and attorney, the actual negotiation meetings, the drafting of the settlement agreement and divorce papers, and the costs of any additional professionals the clients might have engaged.