Collaborative Law is a way for spouses to bring a resolution to the end of their marriage with the benefit of his or her own attorney, but without the involvement of the courts. It is a process defined by the family, with the mutual goal of reaching a fair settlement. The time table is set by the parties and their attorneys, and adjusted to meet the needs of the family. Even though the case is not in traditional litigation, financial information is openly shared with the understanding that an agreement cannot be reached without a meaningful exchange of such information. Depending on the complexity of the issues involved, the collaborative practice may employ a team approach to bring neutral experts, such as financial advisors, accountants, and mediators to help the family sort through more sophisticated issues and to develop scenarios for resolution. Although information regarding income, assets and liabilities is exchanged on an informal basis, it is also a “share and verify” approach. The relevant information is disclosed and then verified with documentation and tax returns, for example. The parties then meet in a series of four-way conferences with their collaborative lawyers to discuss the issues and reach a consensus. The focus is on the particular issues being addressed instead of blaming or focusing on the other party as the problem. Once a settlement is reached, the attorneys will prepare a written agreement called a “Marital Settlement Agreement.” This will eventually be attached to a Final Judgment of Divorce, which is obtained with minimal involvement with the court system in an “uncontested” case.
For more information about collaborative law from the International Association of Collaborative Professionals “IACP” click here