Saturday, March 1, 2014

Discussing Why You Want to Use Collaborative Law

There's an important discussion that needs to take place, but which is often overlooked, at the start of a Collaborative Law case.  People choose to use the process for many different reasons, sometimes being influenced by more than one reason.

Here are some of the reasons why people choose to use Collaborative.  They are looking for:

  • A civil, less stressful, resolution of difficult issues.  Instead of "warfare" between spouses, they can choose to negotiate as adults to find acceptable ways to meet the needs of each party.  
  • An inexpensive process to resolve disputes.  
  • A fast process to resolve disputes.
  • A fair process.
  • A process where the parties can control the expenses.
  • Privacy.
  • A process where the parties make the decisions and control the outcome.
  •  A process where the parties control the timing, instead of leaving it to a court or arbitrary rules.
  • A process  that preserves important family relationships.
These are all reasons that different people have expressed in different cases.  They are all legitimate values, but you should know that:

  • Collaborative Law is not "cheap".  Cheap is a relative term.  In general, Collaborative Law can be less expensive than litigation because we don't do formal discovery or depositions, we don't use competing experts and we don't have numerous court appearances.  That's money that's saved.  On the other hand, there are two attorneys, usually a neutral mental health professional and a neutral financial professional and multiple meetings. We do gain some efficiency by having the other two professionals do a lot of the work on parenting issues and gathering financial information and creating budgets without having the attorneys sit in on the preliminary work.  My opinion is that, on balance, Collaborative can be cheaper than litigation, especially compared to hotly contested cases.
  • Collaborative Law is not inherently "fast", unless both parties are in agreement as to how fast they want to go.  The general rule is that the process can move along only as fast as the slower party is willing to go. One party cannot rush the other party in Collaborative.
What to Do
At the start of your Collaborative case, please take some time out to discuss with your Collaborative lawyer why you want to use the process.  Explain your expectations.  If you have unrealistic expectations, it is better to discover that early on so adjustments can be made or a new course chosen.  The attorneys and other professionals can adjust their approaches if they know from the beginning what is really important to you about the process.

The result will be greater comfort for you and a greater chance for a successful outcome!

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