I. THE COLLABORATIVE LAW PROCESS
Collaborative law is a cooperative, voluntary conflict resolution model for couples going through a separation, dissolution or other family law matter. The participants, which include both the attorneys and the couple, acknowledge that the essence of “collaborative law” is the shared belief that it is in the best interests of the couple and their families in family law matters to commit themselves to avoiding litigation and instead to work together to create shared solutions to the issues presented by the couple. The goal of collaborative law is to minimize, if not eliminate, the negative economic, social and emotional consequences of litigation to families.
II. NO COURT OR OTHER INTERVENTION
Collaborative law requires a commitment to settling the issues involved without court intervention. Participants must agree to give full, honest and open disclosure of all information, whether requested or not. Participants must agree to engage in informal discussions and conferences to settle all issues.
The collaborative process cannot eliminate concerns about the disharmony, distrust and irreconcilable differences which have led to the current conflict and there is no guarantee that the process will be successful in resolving a dispute.
IV. PARTICIPATION WITH INTEGRITY
Participants must commit to protecting the privacy, respect and dignity of all involved, including the couple, attorneys and consultants.
V. EXPERTS AND CONSULTANTS
Sometimes the input of outside experts such as accountants, appraisers and therapists might be needed to assist the participants in jointly reaching creative and informed solutions.
VI. CHILDREN’S ISSUES
In resolving issues about sharing the enjoyment of and responsibility for children, the parents, attorneys and therapists make every effort to reach amicable solutions that promote the children’s best interests. Every effort will be made to insulate children from involvement in the parents’ disputes.
VII. NEGOTIATION IN GOOD FAITH
The process, even with full and honest disclosure, will involve vigorous good faith negotiation. Each participant will be expected to take a reasoned position in all disputes. Although participants may discuss the likely outcome of a litigated result, none will use threats of litigation or of abandoning the collaborative process as a way of forcing settlement.
VIII. ATTORNEYS’ ROLE – ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND COSTS
The attorneys’ role is to provide an organized framework that will make it easier for the parties to reach an agreement on each issue. The attorneys and the parties work together to reach a solution which serves the needs of both parties.
IX. ABUSE OF THE COLLABORATIVE PROCESS
A collaborative law attorney will withdraw from a case as soon as possible upon learning that his or her client has withheld or misrepresented information or otherwise acted so as to undermine or take unfair advantage of the collaborative law process.
X. DISQUALIFICATION BY COURT INTERVENTION
An attorney’s representation in the collaborative process is limited to that process. No attorney representing a party in the collaborative process can ever represent that party in court in a proceeding against the other spouse. In the event a court filing is unavoidable, both attorneys are disqualified from representing either client.
© Excerpted from Collaborative Family Lawyers of South Florida, Inc.
How is Collaborative Family Law different than Family Law Mediation?
Both allow the Husband and Wife to self-determine their settlement. Professionals, be it attorneys, accountants, or mental health therapists assist in the parties’ determination of an agreement.
Both save attorney’s fees and other professional fees, as usually the process is shortened and preparation for high stakes hearings and trial are avoided.
Mediation can be pro se; Collaborative requires two trained collaborative lawyers.
Collaborative keeps the matter out of court altogether until an agreement is reached.
If the Collaborative process does not succeed and litigation ensues; the attorneys and other professionals must immediately withdraw from representation. The parties must find other professionals to go to court.
The Collaborative process lessens the daily anxiety of litigation and an uncertain outcome in the hands of a third party (judge).
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