Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Changing a Case to Collaborative after Filing

A common question people have about Collaborative Law is whether they can change a litigation case into a Collaborative case after it has been filed. The answer, thankfully, is Yes!

Some Collaborative attorneys will file a petition for divorce and either include a paragraph and information about Collaborative Law or provide, through separate documents, information to be served on the other party. The Collaborative Law information urges the other party to investigate and consider using Collaborative Law. If the other party hires a trained Collaborative Lawyer, any temporary hearing can be stopped and the case can be switched to Collaborative Law.

Other concerns come into play if there have been temporary hearings in the case. If there were actual "hearings", the parties' relationship could have become more damaged, which could make it more difficult to change processes. If the parties are fairly deep in the litigation process, it may be hard to recover a spirit of cooperation between them. Both parties and their attorneys need to candidly discuss their feelings and concerns before switching to Collaborative Law after doing a lot of things in a litigation model.

Unless the change in processes is done close to the outset, the parties and attorneys need to be very careful in deciding to make the change, but it is possible to do so.

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