Collaborative Law is a process to respectfully and collaboratively negotiate a mutually-acceptable settlement without court intervention. An attorney representing a client in the collaborative law process has a duty distinct from the traditional adversarial role. The attorney works closely with a client to advise him or her throughout the process, acting as a counselor and trusted friend. Collaborative law differs from mediation in that there is no neutral arbitrator. Therefore, the attorneys for both parties play a key role in helping their clients come to terms that are favorable to both sides. Collaborative law is distinct in that:
- Each party obtains legal advice and advocacy from their own collaborative attorney.
- All negotiations take place in “four-way” settlement meetings attended by both clients and both attorneys.
- Collaborative attorneys contractually agree to avoid litigation, not go to court, and not threaten court involvement as a negotiation tactic.
- Both parties sign an agreement committing to open communication and information sharing.
- Child specialists, financial neutrals, and other professionals with special skills can be included to more quickly and cost-effectively arrive at the best resolution.
As collaborative attorneys, we act as an ally and advocate for our clients. We help facilitate negotiations, generate options, advise on applicable law, ensure an open process, and assure our client’s needs are adequately addressed by the resolution.
For such important transitions as divorce or child custody, we believe collaboration is frequently the superlative way for clients to reconcile conflicts and preserve relationships, while maintaining control of the process.