At the time of separation and divorce, one of the most important, if not the most important, decision one has to make is whether to pursue the resolution of all marital issues through the collaborative divorce process or the traditional adversarial divorce process. While it is possible to shift from one process to the other, once one embarks on either route, changing course later is much more difficult. The key is to make a rational and informed choice as to which approach is best suited for your situation. At the time of separation, one or both of the parties are typically at an emotional low point where the powerful emotions of anger, betrayal, hurt, rejection, disbelief and bewilderment dominate. It is exactly at this time of impaired decision-making that you must choose whether to take the traditional adversarial divorce resolution route or consider the alternative of collaborative divorce. The forward-looking question is when you look back at your divorce experience in the rear-view mirror of 20-20 hindsight, will you be able to say that you opted for the best choice. The collaborative divorce process certainly does not have a monopoly on the ability to resolve divorce cases without going to court. Through the assistance of skillful and experienced divorce attorneys, cases can be resolved on the basis of a negotiated settlement without the filing of any court papers. But the specter of court always looms in the background as an unspoken threat. This reality can influence not only the extent to which all information is put on the table, but can direct the language and tenor of the negotiations This is particularly true when one party or the other is threatening to go to court and the other is determined not to. What the collaborative divorce process provides is a predictable, controlled outcome fashioned entirely by the Parties rather than a Judge. The win-lose model of the adversarial legal system will produce a “result” or an “answer” to disputed issues, but Court decisions are limited in terms of what issues can be brought before the Court and the presentation of evidence is limited by the many evidentiary rules. Then a relative stranger to the case, the Judge, must make a decision often on limited information. The Parties shift from a history of direct communications to everything going through their attorneys often resulting in simple propositions becoming tangled in the web of additional concessions, all communicated through the vocabulary of posturing and positioning. This, combined with the inherent inefficiencies of the Court litigation system, often creates financial and emotional havoc in the process.
Collaborative law is on the cutting edge of alternative dispute techniques of divorce resolution that is the subject of high client demand but low attorney participation. Collaborative law offers a common-sense, constructive alternative and only requires two rational participants who recognize that they have fundamental differences but share a commitment to resolve their differences, and two trained collaborative law attorneys who are well-versed in the mechanics of collaborative law and adhere to the underlying philosophy of a collaborative resolution as opposed to litigation. Collaborative law involves the process where specially trained divorce attorneys work with clients who are both committed to dealing with the financial, emotional and legal aspects of separation, divorce and co-parenting in a constructive way.
The collaborative law commitment involves a commitment to a set of specific ground rules premised on the pledge that the parties will not submit their issues to the “meat-grinder” known as litigation. These parties recognize that the collaborative law structure reaches settlement faster than other forms of negotiation in a much less traumatic fashion.
Doing this with the guidance of competent, constructive legal counsel minimizes attorneys’ fees and expert witness fees.