Collaborative Law is a system of dispute resolution in which the parties and their lawyers agree in advance that no one will take any contested issues to Court. The collaborative team -- which often includes a financial professional and sometimes includes a mental-health professional -- focuses all its attention on finding ways to restructure a family so that everyone involved has his or her needs met (to the greatest extent possible).
Positives: Collaborative Law operates from the perspective that most people want to move through family law matters as quickly and efficiently as possible. The goal of the collaborative process is not to harm the spouse or children, but to convert an unworkable situation into something the parties believe will work better for everyone. Collaborative Law eliminates much of the strategic game-playing that often accompanies litigation, as well as the acrimony that is created when one person has to “win” and the other has to “lose.” In the unlikely event that clients are not able to settle their cases using the Collaborative Law model, separate litigation attorneys can still take the case to Court.
Negatives: Collaborative Law is a voluntary process. No one can force another person to participate, or to act in good faith. Unscrupulous lawyers and clients may try to use the Collaborative process to gain advantage over another, never intending to adhere to the principles of Collaborative Law. Clients with serious mental health issues may not be capable of participating in Collaborative Law to the extent necessary to reach a settlement using this model.