If you are considering initiating a family law action, Collaborative Law may be the process for you. The Collaborative Law Process is a non-adversarial approach to handling your divorce, paternity or post-judgment matter.
There are a number of benefits that you will experience by handling your matter collaboratively. Most importantly, you are not dependent on a judge’s calendar. As many of you know, courts are closed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Some judges are handling quick hearings via Zoom or telephonically, but do not expect to have your half or full day trial or an evidentiary hearing heard before a judge any time soon. Judges are rescheduling their evidentiary hearings and trials for several months down the line. Had you handled your case via the Collaborative method, your case would not experience the lengthy delays resulting from the court’s closure.
Other benefits to the Collaborative Process include:
- Privacy: In traditional adversarial cases, all of your information, including your Financial Affidavit and your Settlement Agreement, are filed with the court and become public record. In the Collaborative Process, those documents remain confidential and are not accessible by the public.
- Empowerment: In the Collaborative Process, you are empowered to make your own decisions related to your family, instead of having a judge, a third party who knows nothing about your family and your life, make those decisions for you.
- Financial: The Collaborative Process can be significantly less expensive than traditional litigation since there is no motion practice to request discovery or other temporary relief, and no drawn out evidentiary hearings or trials.
- Efficiency: the courts are underfunded and overburdened. It can take several months to get before a judge for a hearing on a motion, even one that may be considered an “emergency” or “urgent.” In the Collaborative Process, you are not relying on a judge’s availability to get issues resolved. Instead, you are scheduling private meetings with your spouse/partner and your Collaborative team to resolve your case as efficiently as possible.
- Preservation of your Familial Relationship: The Collaborative Process can protect your familial relationship. If you have children in common, you know that your relationship with your spouse or partner does not end the moment you get divorced or your family case gets resolved. There are birthdays, graduations, weddings and several other life events that will keep you connected. Why make those future occasions uncomfortable or unpleasant for yourself and your child by engaging in a nasty, drawn out battle in court? By handling your matter via the Collaborative Process, you can come out of the other side knowing you did not drag your spouse or partner through the mud and poison a relationship that will continue in one form or another for years to come.
- Education: If you never had much involvement in your financial affairs, the Collaborative Process will give you insight into your finances and can help set you up for your future. The neutral forensic accountant will provide you with the tools you need to successfully handle your finances long after your case has concluded.
- Transparency: Participants in a Collaborative Law Process are committed to being transparent. This means that the parties know that all pertinent documents and information must be exchanged upon request. You will avoid the unnecessary cost and delay of filing formal requests for discovery and issuing subpoenas for documents that are common in the adversarial process because everyone involved knows that the requested documents must be exchanged as part of the process. A lot of attorney’s fees are spent in the gamesmanship and posturing that comes into play in most litigated family law cases. This is a significant waste of resources for most families but can fortunately be avoided because of the transparency required by the Collaborative Law Process.
- Commitment to Settling: Everyone in the Collaborative Process signs a Participation Agreement, which includes a disqualification provision. That disqualification provisions prohibits any members of the Collaborative Team, including the attorneys and the forensic accountant, from representing the parties in contested litigation if the Collaborative Process breaks down. This means that everyone is committed to settling your case within the process, and no one can use the threat of going to court as a way to strong arm one of the parties into a settlement.
Those are just some of the many benefits to using the Collaborative Process to resolve your family case versus traditional litigation. If you would like to learn more information on the Collaborative Process, or family law in general, please contact our office.