What is Collaborative Law and How Do I Know if it’s Right For Me?

Many people envision divorce as a highly combative process that may ultimately result in a judge deciding how your assets and liabilities are divided and under what parenting structure you and your children will operate.  Collaborative law presents the opportunity to provide the opposite journey and result.

Collaborative law focuses on the individuals – both parties and children – involved in an ongoing divorce.  The emphasis is on finding resolutions to legal issues that are as unique as the individual family.

Collaborative law involves a team, agreed upon by the parties to the divorce, including attorneys, financial professionals, and individual or child-focused mental health professionals.  The process can be extremely successful by shifting the focus between the parties away from finger-pointing and placing blame, to understanding your financial estate and parenting strengths with a goal of developing a practical and successful settlement arrangement which avoids the stress and significant financial investment often associated with protracted litigation.

Both parties must be in agreement that they wish to proceed through a divorce based on the collaborative law principles.  Each party will hire a specially trained collaborative law attorney.  Each spouse signs an agreement that he or she is willing and able to disclose all financial information to allow their spouse, the attorneys, and the financial professional to make an appropriate assessment of the family’s financial history and future.

The collaborative law process is founded under the assumption that both parties wish to avoid litigation and contested court hearings.  If settlement negotiations irreparably break down during this process, and either party feels as though they must seek judicial involvement, each party’s attorney will withdraw from the case and the parties hire new legal counsel to lead them through litigation.

There are tremendous benefits that can be obtained through the collaborative law process, although it may not be recommended for every family or every spouse.  The attorneys at Puryear, Newman and Morton and trained in the collaborative law process and would be pleased to speak with any individual about whether the collaborative law approach could be useful in their specific situation.  We are very attuned to the fact that there are no “cookie-cutter” families and we believe in helping spouses keep their focus on finding a specific resolution tailored to their family’s needs.