Collaborative Family Law – FAQ’s

Q. Does each client use an attorney specially trained in Collaborative Law (“CL”) ?

A. Yes. One spouse can give the other one articles and the names of attorneys specially trained in both collaborative theory and skills in the hope of educating him/her about the benefits of using this process. Collaborative Law is voluntary and, therefore, very client focused. The parties choose Collaborative Law Family Law attorneys because they believe such professionals will guide them through the legal process of divorce in a way that is both effective and efficient and will best serve the interests of the whole family.

Q. What happens if one party has already retained a non CL attorney?

A. The other party can talk to litigation counsel about consulting a CL attorney to learn more about the process. Depending on the litigating attorney, s/he may be more or less inclined to encourage such a consultation. If there has already been court action, changing in mid-stream may be more difficult.

Q. If litigation is “off the table” during the CL process, why would an attorney or a client for that matter be willing to forego such an option?

A. Taking the threat of court out of the negotiation is incredibly freeing for both the attorneys and the clients. Hostility is greatly reduced, and creative problem solving is greatly increased. Two attorneys and two clients end up working together to come to an agreement. It enables parties to learn how to resolve issues which inevitably come up later. Families are spared the pain created by parents’ going to court as adversaries

Q. If the process fails, and the parties end up in court with new trial attorneys, isn’t that terribly inefficient and costly?

A. Experience shows that the process does work. Very few cases disrupt. However, if litigation is pursued, the clients are much farther along the process and are much more educated than if they started with litigation. For example, issues are narrowed, and discovery is complete (unless incomplete discovery is the reason for the termination of the CL process).

Q. Is CL less time and money consuming?

A. While these factors are not the most compelling features CL (compared to the family well being), the potential for such savings is a real advantage.

Q.   Aren’t most cases settled so that there probably won’t be a trial anyway?

A. While a vast majority of cases are never tried, the context within which they are settled differs in litigation as contrasted with CL. In the former, there is always the threat and hostility of the full adversarial process. In the latter, there is an initial intention to negotiate and settle the case in good faith.

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