Monday, April 16, 2012

How to Speed Up the Collaborative Law Process

For many different reasons, people going through the Collaborative Law process are anxious to settle their cases quickly.  It may be to save money, to stop the pain and stress from the end of a relationship or just the desire to start another chapter in their life.  Whatever the motivation, the parties often are in a hurry to get it over with.
In the interest of speeding up the process, here are some things you can do if you are a party to a Collaborative divorce.
  1. Be available for meetings.  Be flexible with your schedule.  It sounds simple, but one of the top reasons for delays is the difficulty in getting three, five or six people together when they are all available.  On the other hand, if your schedule is extremely difficult to manage, Collaborative may be a better process for you simply because you have very little control over scheduling in a litigated case. 
  2. Gather information and documents early.  You and your spouse will need to provide detailed and up-to-date information on your children and your finances.  If you have it together early, in an organized fashion, that will save time.
  3.  Be agreeable.  You don't have to rollover and agree to everything your spouse suggests, but you can be pleasant and pick and choose only the truly significant issues to have extended discussions on.  If there are a lot of important issues that you need resolved, then be realistic.  It's going to take a while to work them out.  Don't expect your spouse to just agree to anything and everything you propose.  Be realistic.
  4. Be ready.  Show up for meetings.  Don't put them off, unless it is unavoidable.  Be prepared for the meetings.  When you get assignments to work on aspects of the case, be responsible and get things done.  If you can't complete your task, let everyone know ahead of time.  You might reschedule the meeting to avoid wasting time.  Generally, if you are concerned about speeding up the process, do your share -- on time!
  5. Follow the rules and the steps of the process.  At the first joint meeting (the one that often seems boring and unnecessary if you are in a hurry), we go over the steps we follow in the process (usually referred to as the "Roadmap to Resolution") and we discuss how everyone should act in the meetings.  If everyone behaves well and follows  the steps of the process, we can move along pretty quickly.
Keep in mind that Collaborative Law is NOT meant to be a FAST  process.  But, it is more civilized, less stressful, more efficient, private and set up for the parties to create a solution from their own decision-making.  If you follow the above suggestions, you will also operate as quickly as is possible.

Monday, April 2, 2012

How Fast is Collaborative Law?

Here's a quick answer.

  • The Collaborative Law process is NOT FAST.  When you are dealing with significant assets and important family relationships, it is not prudent to make snap decisions.  When there are important matters to decide, be prepared to take an appropriate amount of time to analyze the situation and then come to a decision.  This is not a short-cut process where we guess about things and seriously consider other options.  If you are in a huge hurry, don't waste your time on Collaborative.
  • Collaborative Law is probably/usually faster than litigation.  The key information is that most contested litigated cases take a long time to resolve.  They often take a year or more.  Collaborative cases are almost always resolved much quicker than that.  On the other hand, if the case if very complicated, the parties have special needs to be addressed or family events get in the way (marriage, death, job loss, etc.), the process can be drawn out.  In most cases, however, Collaborative will be FASTER (although not fast).
  •  It's not really possible to compare how a case would turn out in Collaborative Law versus how it would run in litigation.  We can't get the facts of your case and then tell you with any accuracy how it would play out in each process.  Once a case starts in either process, new events change the facts and attitudes, and decisions are made based on changing circumstances.  Each decision leads us down a different path.  Both processes involve us continually making new decisions, based on new facts and new perspectives, resulting in us going in new directions.  Cases  aren't handled the same ways in both processes, so there's no easy comparison between them.  Similarly, you can't compare your Collaborative case to someone else's Collaborative case, just like no two litigated cases are the same.
While I stand by the conclusion that Collaborative Law is not FAST, I still believe it is the best process for resolving family law issues for a great number of people.  If you have concerns about what the best approach is for you to take, consult with a Collaborative Law trained lawyer.  We don't recommend the process for everyone, but it might be a good fit for you!