Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat -- Are There Always Just 2 Choices?

Tonight, most folks will be inundated by little monsters, princesses and really cute little creatures who all seem to be knocking on doors and saying the same thing, "Trick or Treat!". Hearing that phrase got me thinking about how so many things in life seem to be either-or situations: black or white, young or old, smart or dumb, rich or poor, etc. We've grown accustomed to thinking in dichotomies with seeming opposites being the only choices.

In reality, not only are there gray areas (gray color, middle age, normal intelligence, middle class, for examples), but if we look, we can usually also find alternative choices. One of the most significant benefits of Collaborative Law is that it actively promotes the creation and consideration of new options through the decision-making process.

The Collaborative process usually involves following several steps. First, the goals are set out for each party so everyone knows what needs to be accomplished. Second, information is gathered about the parties' situation. Third, the parties brainstorm and come up with as many options as they can. Fourth, the options are evaluated by the parties. And fifth, the parties negotiate and reach an agreement. That framework has proven very successful in helping parties create solutions that they both like.

While all the steps are important, the brainstorming session is often the most interesting and enlightening. When they try, parties are able to come up with great new ideas and solutions that are acceptable to both parties. That is a vastly different situation from old-fashioned litigation which relies mostly on standard guidelines and formulas, as well as "what the judge always does in similar situations".

For those interested in finding new ways to solve problems, Collaborative Law is the way to go. For those who find security in the tried and true either-or responses to issues, litigation is the appropriate approach. Collaborative Law is sometimes difficult, but ultimately is rewarding in many ways as I have previously discussed on this blog. Hopefully, you won't be scared to try something new and challenging, even on Halloween!

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