A Better Way to Separate? Collaborative Practice Offers an Alternative for Couples Who Want to Avoid Court
One of the most common comments I hear from new clients who are separating from a spouse is that they don’t want it to “get ugly”. Whether someone is on good terms with their spouse and they want to maintain that or whether someone just doesn’t want to endure the emotional and financial turmoil of litigation, Collaborative Practice offers an alternative.
What is Collaborative Practice? It is a different approach to the resolution of family law matters that focuses on each party’s interests rather than entrenched legal positions. The Collaborative process looks for a family centered solution that meets everyone’s needs. Participants are required to sign a contract which says that if they cannot resolve the matter in the Collaborative process and they decide to take the matter to court, they cannot keep the lawyers who represented them in the Collaborative process; they will have to hire new lawyers and start from scratch. The Collaborative approach also offers the opportunity to bring in other professionals, who are also trained in Collaborative Practice, to provide advice and guidance on particular issues, such as parenting and finances.
The Collaborative process is not just for spouses who are amicable or conflict free. The Collaborative approach can be an excellent alternative for high conflict spouses who are looking for assistance in reducing the conflict and keeping their separation away from court and costly litigation.
When describing the Collaborative process, clients often wonder how it differs from mediation. One major difference is that clients often opt to attend mediation on their own, without their lawyer present. In the Collaborative process, your lawyer is by your side for every meeting, providing advice and support. In addition, each party signs a Participation Agreement, which outlines the guidelines for participation in the process and the commitment that each party is making to the process. The Collaborative process allows for greater participation from the parties and empowers them to make the decisions that will shape their family as they move forward in two separate households.
The issue of cost is a primary concern for clients. In comparison with the traditional route of going to court, the Collaborative process is much less costly. When compared with other methods of dispute resolution, Collaborative Practice is an efficient and effective process, often resulting in cost savings in the long term. When both individuals achieve a result they are happy and satisfied with, the need to return to lawyers to deal with issues in the future is minimized.