Collaborative Process

What is the Collaborative Process?

The Collaborative Process is a transparent process, different from traditional dispute resolution (litigation). It allows clients, attorneys, and other professionals to meet and together resolve disputes in a civil and respectful manner. The process promotes mutual respect amongst the participants, and it occurs in a safe environment where each participant is represented by their own collaborative attorney.

This Process is unique. From the beginning, all participants agree that the case will NOT be taken to court. The benefit of this commitment is that the parties retain their decision-making control of the case. Every case is different, every family is different, therefore the people involved in the case are the ones deciding what works best in their situation.

When a case is taken to court, a judge is the one who will ultimately make decisions that will affect a family’s life. Whether the parties agree or not with a Judge’s decision, that is simply irrelevant.

The Collaborative Process involves a problem-solving technique known as interest-based negotiation. The purpose of this process is to reach agreements on issues that meet the needs and interests of each participant.

Threats, intimidation, or hostile language are NOT permitted in the Collaborative process.

What types of cases can be done through the Collaborative Process?

The Collaborative Process allows parties to resolve disputes involving:

  1. Divorce
  2. Paternity
  3. Pre and Post nuptial agreements (Drafting of agreement)
  4. Timesharing Modification
  5. Alimony Modification
  6. Child Support Modification

What is required in the Collaborative Process?

2 Attorneys

It is important that each party has their own attorney. The attorney’s role is to represent their party’s interests and to also explain how the law works. The attorneys work in a respectful manner and there is no place for ineffectual motions, or arguments. The attorneys are diligent advocates for their clients but do not act in an adversarial manner.

Signing of a Participation Agreement

Both parties commit to working together towards a mutually beneficial outcome. Parties commit that the case will not be taken to court in an effort to maintain control over the decision-making process, as well as to minimize the exorbitant costs of litigation.

Disqualifying Clause

If the Collaborative Process ends for any reason, the attorneys are disqualified from representing either spouse in a litigated scenario.

Who is involved in the Collaborative Process?

2 Collaborative Attorneys

The attorney’s role is clearly defined as the advocate for the client but not an adversary in the process. The attorney allows for reasonableness and cooperation rather than unnecessary aggressiveness.

Neutral Mental Health Facilitator

The neutral mental health facilitator often prevents the derailment of the process. Their communication skills are effective in teaching the participants how to communicate, a critical part of the process.

Guiding and teaching the participants on how to communicate with each other can allow the parties to use better communication methods when the dispute is over, and they perhaps have years of co-parenting to share.

Neutral Financial Professional

The neutral financial professional is responsible for analyzing the finances of the participants. The neutral financial professional assists the attorneys in achieving a fair distribution of assets and liabilities between the participants.

There is total transparency of information in the collaborative process.

Why so many professionals involved in the Collaborative Process?

It takes a team to help people dissolve the most intimate relationship, and in some cases many years of a life together. Divorce is an emotional event and it represents the death of a relationship for some. Support is needed.

  • The team uses different dynamics than the traditional court model
  • Parties learn how to communicate
  • Parties focus on the needs and interests of each other
  • Parties learn how to develop a healthy relationship post-divorce
  • It helps them stay out of court and spend less

The Collaborative Process offers the participants total transparency of information. It also allows the participants to have control of the situation. They have the power to decide how long the process takes regarding time, which can be months versus the years it could take in court due to the judge’s calendar and endless motions. The participants also have the flexibility to negotiate to terms that they find more agreeable, instead of just having a judge decide for them.

Collaborative Divorce v. Litigation

Collaborative Divorce Litigation

Attorney’s fees are used in an effective manner with priority of settling the case as opposed to charging the clients for ineffective court pleadings.

Depletion of assets / income on attorney’s fees on a series of ineffective court procedures.

It is possible to foresee the duration of the process.

Unpredictable duration / unpredictable fees.

Non-Adversarial: attempts to minimize stress between the parties, control over the case and duration of the case, informal setting creates a sense of comfort, minor children’s best interest at hand, attorneys working together to find creative alternatives to solve the disputes between the parties.

Adversarial: stress, lack of control over the case, little to no communication between the parties, attorneys working against one another

Participants schedule meetings based on their own availability.

Depends on the judges’ availability to hear your case

Private and Confidential

Everything is Public Record

If there are children involved, their interest becomes one of the focal points in the Collaborative Process. The mental health neutral/facilitator assists the parents in learning how to communicate in a healthy manner and to always set their children’s interests as a priority.

Due to the hostile nature of litigation, the parties unfortunately end up putting their own interests first as opposed to keeping their children as priority. As a result, the parties’ relationship will not be ideal post-divorce, and co-parenting becomes a challenge, which only hurts the children.

Mediation v. The Collaborative Process

Collaborative Process Mediation

A series of events where the professionals involved have familiarity with the case and participants

It’s a single event.

A series of events where the issues are progressively being resolved.

Single event that normally takes place at the end of a litigated case where the parties already have animosity towards one another.

The parties control the disposition of their case and determine the outcome of their case.

Mediator is not a Judge and cannot resolve the outcome of a case if the parties don’t sign a settlement agreement.

93% of Collaborative cases successfully resolve at the conclusion of the process.

If no agreement reached, parties go to trial.

Benefits of the Collaborative Process

  1. The divorce is private and confidential

  2. The parties have decision making control, not the judge

  3. The parties make decisions that work for them

  4. The Collaborative Process takes each party’s need and interests into account

  5. Respectful atmosphere

  6. Faster than litigation

  7. The parties have better control of the costs

  8. The parties learn how to efficiently resolve differences

  9. Better co-parenting skills