Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:
Collaborative professionals ae trained to help clients deal with their emotions in joint meetings and conference calls. They understand how to help clients express authentic hopes and needs effectively. They ask questions that keep the conversation focused on mutually acceptable, workable outcomes.
2. And that works?
In most cases, it works beautifully. When problems arise, collaborative practice attorneys help separating individuals remain committed to finding workable solutions. The very act of meeting together to work through problems and concerns sets the stage for giving thoughtful consideration to everyone's needs. Remarkably, this atmosphere helps to create broader, more detailed solutions and more complete settlement agreements.
3. How do I know whether it is safe for me to work in the Collaborative Law process?
The collaborative law process does not guarantee you that every asset or every dollar of income will be disclosed, any more than the conventional litigation process can guarantee you that. You are generally the best judge of your partner's basic honesty.
4. Is Collaborative law the best choice for me?
It isn't for everyone, but it is worth considering if some or all of these are true for you:
You want a civilized, respectful resolution of the issues
You are more interested in moving on with your life than fighting
You want a financial settlement that is respectful to both parties so that both households can provide for the needs of the party and children
You want your children to be able to have a relationship with both parents without feeling loyalty conflicts or be in the middle of anger, upset and fighting
You would like to keep open the possibility of friendship with your partner down the road, so that you can co-parent better
You value control and autonomous decision making and do not want to hand over decisions about restructuring your financial and child-rearing arrangements to the judge who is a stranger to your family priorities.
You want a less costly and less time consuming process to work out solutions
You want everyone, including the attorneys to cooperate to keep the children out of the conflict
You value privacy of the family history and finances and do not want them to be discussed or open to the public
You want a win-win climate rather than an all-out "take no prisoners" climate
5. What is the difference between Collaborative Law and mediation?
Mediation involves the use of a third party neutral to facilitate negotiation and attempt to bring two parties in conflict to a mutually agreeable settlement. Mediation encourages a colllaborative effort towards problem-solving, however the neutral cannot give legal advice, be an advocate for one party or the other, or propose a possible outcome. The mediator monitors the obtaining of information and knowledge but does not make sure that both participants are completely forthcoming and open with their financial information. If the two participants do not have equal bargaining skills, are not both equally ready emotionally for maintaining separate lives, or have equal power in the relationship, the mediator does not attempt to equalize these characteristics.
Of course in collaborative law you each have your own attorney to give you legal advice and help you propose solutions and engage in problem-solving meant to meet your needs and those of the entire family.
6. Why is it so important to sign on formally to the Collaborative Participation Agreement?
The special power that Collaborative law has to spark creative conflict resolution seems to happen only when the lawyers and the clients are all pulling together in the same direction, to solve the same problems in the same way. If the lawyers can still consider unilateral resort to the courts as a fallback option, their thought processes do not become transformed; their creativity is actually crippled by the availability of court and conventional trials. Only when everyone knows that it is up to the four of them and only the four of them to think their way to a solution, or else the process fails and the lawyers are out of the picture, does the special "hypercreativity" of collaborative law get triggered. The moment when each person realizes that solving both client's problems is the responsibility of all four participants is the moment when the magic can happen.
Collaborative law is not just two lawyers who like each other, or who agree to "behave nicely". It is a special technique that demand special talents and procedures in order to work as promised.