Friday, July 15, 2016

Is Collaborative Law Appropriate for Our Divorce?

In my view, no case is too complicated for Collaborative Law.  In fact, the more complicated a case is, the better it is to use the Collaborative process instead of fighting and using a standardized approach in litigation.

The question of whether to try Collaborative usually comes up more in the context of some cases that don't have a lot of moving parts.  Simple cases, with limited issues, may not need the Collaborative process.

It can be  a real judgment call to decide whether to use Collaborative or just try to quickly finish an agreement on limited issues.

So, how do you know if your divorce is appropriate for Collaborative Law?

If there are no kids and very little property, an informal approach would probably work, as long as there are no major fights.

But, here are some issues that call for the Collaborative Law approach:

1.  You have a custody conflict.  If both parents start out saying they want primary custody, Collaborative would be very helpful.  There are many options available and Collaborative is certainly a better option than going through a court custody battle.

2. You need a special parenting plan for the kids.  This might be a unique visitation schedule or special time-sharing arrangements. This often comes up when one or both parents have weird or changing work schedules.

3. There are conflicts over expenses, activities or educational needs for the children.  Collaborative Law provides a flexible and creative way to work out agreements that benefit kids while being manageable for the parents.

4.  Post-divorce financial help is needed.  There may be a great disparity in income, education or health between the parties.  Alimony may be needed and help with education expenses for a spouse may also be needed. Working in Collaborative, the parties can find ways to provide needed support post-divorce in affordable, but beneficial ways for both parties.

5. There are special financial needs.  There may be bills to pay off, a house to be sold, a new house to be purchased right away or assets that are hard to divide.  Collaborative Law gives you the time and flexibility to come up with appropriate, customized solutions.

Collaborative Law is not for just the easy cases or ones with very few issues.  It works well for custody issues and complex property issues.  If you are facing a divorce, it is in your best interest to contact a trained Collaborative Law attorney for a consultation so you can decide if the process would work for you.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Do You Want Attention to Details in a Divorce?

Collaborative Law is promoted as being a different process from Litigation for many different reasons.  There are some differences that aren't often emphasized that can be very important to many people.

Usually, attorneys talk about having a series of short, private meetings.  They talk about the agreement to not go to Court, but instead to work directly in the meetings.  They talk about the requirement for the attorney to withdraw in the event the process breaks down, and how that is the great incentive to keep negotiating by trying new approaches.  Those are all significant differences from Litigation.

But, there are some other differences that have a cumulative major positive effect on the outcome of a case. They may sound minor, but they all add value to a problem-solving orientation.
  • There's an agenda for each meeting and we stick to it.  That reduces surprises, limits the topics under discussion and makes it easier to prepare for a meeting.
  • Minutes are taken.  We have a record after each meeting of what was discussed and what agreements were made, as well as what the plans are for future meetings.
  • After each meeting, we have de-briefings.  The attorneys meet briefly with their clients to find out if there are any questions or concerns and to see how the client is feeling.  After that meeting, the attorneys and other professionals meet to review the meeting, plan for the future and consider how to deal with any problems that may have come up.
  •  We use experts well.  We usually have a neutral therapist and a neutral financial advisor.  We can hire joint experts for tax issues, appraisals, psychological evaluations or other needs. There is a lot of freedom to bring in a variety of people, if we can benefit from them.
  • It's a very private process.  Staying away from hearings, Discovery and other distractions, we can quietly work on the important issues.  We can help professionals, wealthy people and celebrities, among others, who don't want their private lives shared with the world. 
If you're facing a divorce or have some other Family Law issues, talk to a trained, experienced Collaborative Lawyer about whether the Collaborative process would benefit you.