to Collaborative Practice
is a difficult, but these days entirely normal, transition in life.
Unfortunately almost half of all divorces in America
end not in the death of a spouse, but in a divorce. Most of us are
close to someone whose life has been touched by divorce. We know it
is one of the most difficult transitions in a personís life.
The traditional way of obtaining the legal
divorce is through litigation.
Divorce litigation is the one area of
litigation I was never willing to practiceóbecause until quite
recently I knew of no way a person could conduct divorce litigation
without necessarily damaging the mental health of the children
involved. Many people agree that the courtroom is not where
decisions about the family should
be made, but many do not realize that there are a number of
alternatives. One of the alternatives is Collaborative Practice.
Now that there is a way for couples to obtain a
divorce, have all of their legitimate needs met, and yet do so in a
way that does not add unnecessary damage to themselves or their
children I am offering such services to clients.
Collaborative Practice is especially attractive to people who are
concerned about how their divorce will impact their children.
Collaborative Practice significantly makes it quite possible for
parents to co-parent their children effectively going forward, even
though living separate lives in separate dwellings. Indeed, although
the ending of the marital relationship is difficult, the continuing
relationship is transformed into one that is a little less intimate
and a little more business-like. Thus, collaboratively divorced
parties realize that when their children marry, they will be able to
sit together in the same pew and at the same table if they so
choose. They will be able to sit together at athletic events so
their children do not need to look to different areas to see their
parents supporting them.
Collaborative Practice is also especially
attractive to people who want to retain some of the good aspects of
their relationship, or forge new positive aspects, despite the fact
that they are obtaining a divorce.
Family Law Practice is comprised of three significant principles
The parties and their counsel pledge in
writing not to go to Court. This is called a Participation
Agreement. Without a participation agreement, the divorce is not
a collaborative process. It is a claim to be cooperative while
still having to gear up for trial. That eliminates the benefits
of collaborative practice.
The parties make an honest and good faith
exchange of information
Solutions will take into account the
highest priorities for both parties and their children
Hallmarks of Collaborative Practice Include:
A shared commitment to proceed honestly,
respectfully and in good faith at all times.
Avoidance of the threat of, or resort to,
Active participation by the parties in four way
Investment of time in ascertaining the shared
goals and legitimate interests of the parties.
Encouragement to work directly with
professionals in a team to assist in the resolution process, with
each serving the specific function for which they are suited by
virtue of their training and experience; attorneys for the legal
issues, licensed mental health professionals for the issues relating
to how divorce impacts children at the various stages of
development, and to help the parties deal effectively with their own
emotional issues surrounding the divorce, along with licensed
financial professionals to come up with a creative solution that
ensures every member of the families legitimate needs are met.
Joint retention of any additional experts
needed in the process, such as the financial experts, mortgage
Disqualification of all lawyers, other
professionals or experts involved in the collaborative process from
participation in any litigated proceedings between the parties.
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