The spirit of Collaborative Law is more of a “troubleshoot and problem solve” approach, rather than the “fight and win” setting of a courtroom. Both parties use mediation and negotiations to settle their divorce in a collaborative divorce process, which can be less stressful on a family unit.
It takes two willing participants for a collaborative law divorce to work. If your spouse is reluctant, mediation and negotiations may be fruitless, which is why it’s important to understand what the process looks like, so you can determine if it’s right for you.
Step 1: Collaborative Participation Agreement
First, you’ll establish ground rules and expectations. Those rules will be documented and outlined in a Collaborative Participation Agreement. All parties are required to adhere to these rules throughout the duration of the collaborative proceedings.
Step 2: The Parties Assemble a Collaborative Team.
This involves each party hiring a Collaborative Lawyer. It may also involve the parties and their attorneys adding other neutral experts, such as financial experts or child therapy experts. If you haven’t chosen a Collaborative Lawyer yet, see our article on how to select a Collaborative Lawyer for essential advice to get you started.
Step 3: Initial Four-way Meeting
Both parties and their attorneys meet to establish an agenda, identify issues and exchange and listen to ideas with the goal of reaching a settlement. Each party debriefs with their lawyer, then the lawyers debrief amongst themselves to plan for the most effective subsequent meeting.
Step 4: Continue Until a Resolution is Reached
4-way meetings between the parties and their respective attorneys continue until an agreement is reached. The Agreement may be in the form of a contract or a Consent Order, depending on the circumstances of the case.