General Information

Collaborative law is the art and practice of reaching divorce agreements without going to court at any stage.

In collaborative law, both parties have attorneys who have agreed not to take the case to court but rather to work together to find the best solutions for both parties and their children if applicable. In addition, there is a team composed of mental health professionals, who serve as communication coaches, a neutral financial specialist, and if necessary, a neutral child specialist. In some cases we also have neutral appraisers of business and real estate.

How is collaborative law different from mediation?

Instead of working together, with one mediator, each party has his or her own attorney and all four people work together to find solutions for the parties in their divorce. The process begins with an agreement that the four people can find solutions without seeking the court’s help.

What are the advantages to collaboration?

  • Emphasis on problem solving:
    Because both attorneys and the parties are dedicated to settlement, they can approach the divorce as a series of problems to be solved rather than a contest. Parties and attorneys treat the various topics as mutual problems and combine their experience and ideas to find creative solutions.
  • Use of four way meeting:
    Where parties are able to meet with each other, a four way meeting offers an efficient method for sharing information and creating solutions. The attorneys bring their experience with the divorce process and training in the law to such a meeting. The parties bring their own intimate knowledge of their situation and their needs.
  • Privacy:
    Because collaborative law uses no court hearings, less information about the parties’ circumstances is filed with the court.
  • An alternative when mediation is not feasible:
    Some parties make poor mediation candidates. For example, one party has made all the financial decisions in the marriage and the other party has no information about or understanding of the family’s circumstances. The uninformed party often feels too greatly disadvantaged to undertake mediation. Similarly, one party may be too emotionally upset either to handle joint mediation sessions or to make reasonable decisions. In such cases, collaboration allows the parties to keep their case out of litigation by giving the disadvantaged party an advisor who participates throughout the negotiations on behalf of that party, offering advice and helping the party deal realistically with his or her options.
  • Control of the process by the parties:
    As in mediation, the parties control the process and progress of their divorce. Instead of being bound by procedures and have decisions made for them, the parties direct their own lives. The attorneys can truly act as counselors-advisors with experience and training in the topics presented during divorce.