Traditionally, obtaining a divorce or separation could be very adversarial.
In a traditional divorce proceeding, each side hires an attorney and both submit their dispute to a judge, who makes rulings on each issue submitted. While this method may be the only answer in some cases, there are alternate methods that most divorcing couples can utilize which may be more effective and less costly.
Collaborative law is a new dispute resolution method…
where both parties to a divorce retain separate, specially-trained attorneys whose only job is to help them settle issues regarding the divorce and, if required, child custody or support. An agreement is entered into by the parties and the lawyers that they will not go to court and are committed to working out a solution and resolve their problems.
Collaborative dispute resolution requires…
the parties to agree to work together respectfully, honestly and in good faith to try to find an optimal solution for both sides. During the collaborative law process, neither party may go to court, or even threaten to go to court. In fact, if the collaborative law process is unsuccessful, the attorneys hired for the collaborative law process may not represent their clients in court and the couple would have to start again with new attorneys.
California law recognizes the collaborative law process…
as an alternative dispute resolution method for resolving family law disputes. The law allows parties to avoid the adversarial judicial method for family law disputes, and provides a method for the parties to file a stipulation with the local family court notifying the court of their desire to utilize the collaborative law method.
Collaborative law differs from mediation.
In mediation, a neutral party attempts to help the divorcing couple settle their case. However, the mediator may not offer legal advice or help either side advocate their position.
Collaborative law maintains the same absolute commitment to settlement, but allows for the skilled collaborative law attorneys to prevent emotion or a lack of negotiating skill from creating a problem.
The attorneys’ sole purpose is to work with their own client to prevent them from being overly emotional or unreasonable and make sure the process remains positive and productive.
Support professionals and experts, such as mental health professionals, real estate agents, financial planners, and forensic accountants are brought into the process if needed.
This type of attorney representation differs from the traditional divorce attorney representation in key ways. Rather than attempting to get the largest amount of money and property for their client, no matter what the cost, a collaborative law attorney is dedicated to assisting their client by ensuring that the process is completed smoothly with both sides receiving what they are entitled to pursuant to the law.
Collaborative law attorneys have been highly trained…
and operate with the highest level of integrity, so they will not take advantage of inadvertent mistakes made by the other party, nor will they threaten or insult their clients or the other side. While both attorneys owe primary allegiance to their clients, in accordance with the rules of professional responsibility, they also know that the way to best serve their clients is by working together to a just outcome.
In essence, collaborative law succeeds because it puts two attorneys in the same room with their clients to pull in the same direction and solve the same list of problems. This allows for a more creative and peaceful resolution.
Learn more about the collaborative law process at Hamers & Baltazar..