Most divorcing spouses have heard of the benefits of divorce mediation, but not all of them have been introduced to the concept of collaborative law. This advanced form of dispute resolution was actually created with marital conflicts in mind. A team of family law attorneys from Minnesota perfected the collaborative law process in the 1990s to help facilitate the swift, respectful and cost-effective settlement of their clients’ divorces.
This process is different from normal mediation because the parties who participate must sign a written commitment to arrive at a respectful, reasoned and constructive settlement in all areas of their divorce, including child custody, child support, alimony and property division. By signing this commitment, the parties promise to employ fairness and good faith during their negotiations. They also promise to readily disclose all documentation required for a fully transparent negotiation.
Another unique factor is the parties’ agreement to the fundamental collaborative law principal that — should negotiations fail — both the parties’ respective attorneys must withdraw as counsel, and each spouse must obtain new attorneys to proceed with litigating the divorce.
During a collaborative law divorce, the spouses will meet with their attorneys present in a neutral place during a series of meetings. Unlike normal mediation, there will not be a neutral third party mediator to guide the process. Rather, the lawyers will follow rules of procedure laid forth by the collaborative law system while assisting the spouses to honor both each other’s wants, needs and viewpoints.
If you’re considering a collaborative law divorce, you might want to learn more about the specifics of what you can expect in the process. This will help you determine whether or not it’s right for you and your family.