Collaborative family law is a non-adversarial method where both parties agree to resolve their legal issues without going to court. Together with their lawyers (and other professionals), the parties have ongoing discussions and negotiations until they can reach a settlement and set out the terms in a written agreement. The collaborative process occurs in private offices (or virtual) with various types of professionals within the private sector. Both parties must agree to collaborative before starting the process and either party can withdraw at anytime for any reason because participation is voluntary (once started). The process ends when the parties reach a settlement or when a party withdraws from the process.
- Amicable – The process prioritizes respectful communication and full transparency.
- Private – Your information is not part of the public record or accessible by the general population (or media).
- Expensive – Resolving your legal issues may cost tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars depending on the level of conflict and/or complexity of your issues.
- Consent – Your (ex)spouse must agree to use collaborative.
- Unpredictable – Your (ex)spouse can withdraw at anytime for any reason, despite all the effort, time and money that you may have invested in the process. In such case, the parties must also find new lawyers because the existing lawyers are required to withdraw from the case.
Is Collaborative Right for You?
Generally, collaborative may be appropriate when both parties have a mutual desire to settle their legal dispute out of court and/or to maintain an ongoing relationship. Collaborative may not be appropriate for some situations, particularly if your (ex)spouse is abusive, uncooperative, unreasonable, elusive and/or has a history of other counterproductive behavioral issues.