Collaborative Family law, is a method of alternative dispute resolution where you and your partner work to resolve the legal issues out of court with the help of lawyers trained in the collaborative process. Collaborative lawyers work with you and your partner to try to reach an agreement. The lawyer(s) will focus on solutions that consider both parties interests and needs, while taking into account the legal rights of each party. The lawyer can help you ensure that you have all the relevant financial documents and information you need to make an informed decision regarding what is a “fair” solution.

The “Participation Agreement” is essential to the Collaborative Law process. This Agreement outlines the expectations and responsibilities of the clients during the Collaborative process. Most importantly, the Participation Agreement typically says the participants will negotiate the entire dispute and will not go to court.

Some of the benefits of the collaborative law approach are:

 It can be faster than going to court once both parties have agreed on all of the process details and have signed a participation agreement.

 It can be more cost-efficient than going through a traditional court process.

 Professional help and representation is still available to both you and your spouse.

 Both parties have more control over the process and results than if a judge or arbitrator makes a decision. Clients decide the terms of their own agreement with the assistance of their lawyers, and final agreement will not be reached unless both clients agree to it.

A collaborative approach may not be appropriate for all families, especially if there have been issues of family violence, or if one spouse won’t participate fairly and openly throughout the process. However, collaborative family law generally offers you and your spouse the ability to come up with your own solutions, which can allow you more control over the process than you would have if you were to resolve your issues in court.

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