Collaborative Law, Part One: What is Collaborative Law and Is It Right for You?

Litigation in divorce is stressful, there’s no doubt about it.  Litigation is time consuming and often involves both parties to the divorce engaging in the “blame game” by pointing out the faults of their spouse all while trying to downplay any negative information about themselves.  Perhaps the most stressful part of litigation, however, is the fact that the fate of your future is left in the hands of a judge who knows very little about you, your values, and the things that are most important to you.  Interested in other alternatives?  Collaborative law might be right for you.

Collaborative law is an alternative method that many people are choosing when entering the divorce process.  Unlike a traditional divorce, which often involves litigation, the Collaborative process is a mutually respectful, open-minded process where both parties are focused on joint problem-solving.  The Collaborative process might be right for you if:

  • You want to avoid court. The goal (and key difference between a traditional divorce and a collaborative one) with collaborative divorce is to reach an agreement without going to court.  At the beginning of the collaborative process, the parties and their lawyers sign a Participation Agreement committing to negotiating in good faith without court involvement.  If the negotiations are unsuccessful, then the Collaborative lawyers are disqualified and new counsel must be retained.  The purpose of this disqualification is to prevent either side from using the threat of court as a negotiating tactic.  Both parties must be committed to the process, nd committed to making appropriate decisions for their family rather than leaving those decisions up to the court.
  • You want to focus more on your future rather than the past. Divorce is the start of a “new normal” for everyone involved including you, your spouse and your children.  Through the Collaborative process, parties are able to learn effective ways to communicate and work together to ensure that they move forward into their new lives in a positive manner.  Rather than moving forward post-divorce with the anger, resentment and bitterness that can come with highly litigated cases, the Collaborative process allows parties a healthy start because of the commitment made to ensure that the future will be successful for everyone involved.
  • You welcome the advice and expertise of others to help you make decisions. The Collaborative process is a team effort.  Rather than navigating the process alone or with an attorney, the Collaborative process offers an expanded team of professionals.  Those individuals may assist you in learning to navigate all of the emotions involved with divorce and ways to effectively communicate with your spouse, formulating a parenting plan that will be most appropriate for your children no matter their developmental stage, or making sound financial decisions to ensure long term success.   Please refer to the following listed previously posted blogs for more valuable information: March 24, 2015 and November 2, 2015. Look for Collaborative Law – Part Two soon.

If you think the Collaborative process might be right for you, give us a call.  We can help.  Contact attorney Tracy Lyson at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss today either online or by calling 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.