Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Having Collaborative Success

Most people going through a divorce or dealing with another family law issue want to do what they can to have a good experience with the Collaborative Law procedure. While it's hard to anticipate all possible problems that can arise in a case, the parties can act in certain ways that will help avoid potential pot holes as they work toward an agreement. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind.

1. Be willing to follow the structure set out by the attorneys and other professionals. Many people want to jump ahead and immediately start working out agreements without following the preliminary steps of setting goals, gathering information and generating options. Years of experience and input from many different experts have lead to the current procedural steps that the professionals plan to follow. You will forfeit your chances of success if you won't follow the normal steps of the process.

2. Do what you agree to do. Keep your word. If you agree to provide information, attend a meeting, follow a certain schedule or anything else, please do what you said you would do. If you can't be trusted to keep your word, the process will fail.

3. Stick to the agenda. The professionals and the parties set the agendas for the meetings. It is important to follow the agenda. Surprises lead to upset feelings, a sense of insecurity and a loss of confidence in the process. Straying from the agenda also wastes time and money for the parties. There will be time to get to all the necessary issues. The order of progress is set by the professionals based on our experience in finding the most effective ways to deal with issues.

4. Don't go rogue. Follow the agreements that are made as we go along. Don't suddenly decide to start taking actions on your own. That causes a lack of trust and will lead to a termination of the process.

5. Be patient. It takes some time to progress through the "Road Map to Resolution" that we follow. We don't skip steps because each step adds a significant part of the foundation for future actions. It may seem like the process is moving slowly, but it is virtually always the case that litigation would take longer to get to a final resolution.

6. Be respectful of the the other party's needs. It will be hard to you to get what you want in the end if you are unwilling to give in some to what your spouse wants. Try putting yourself in your spouse's position to better understand what s/he wants and why. That should make it easier for you to agree to what your spouse is asking for or to help you find or create a viable alternative.

7. Speak up. At joint meetings, be sure that you speak up to share information, opinions and choices. If you have special concerns or valuable information, make sure you inform the other professionals when you meet with them separately. Any problems you are having can be more easily dealt with if you let others know about them.

If you will follow these suggestions, you can greatly improve the likelihood of success for you in the Collaborative Law process.

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