Collaborative Law - How it works
Col laborative practice appears very similar to mediation, which also allows the parties to make their own decisions. Mediation can be done with your lawyer at your side, but typically is not. However, if an offer is made that one party wants their lawyer to review, there may be a del ay of days or weeks until that party is once again ready to proceed.
As the couple move through these stages, they conduct themselves according to guidelines which everyone agrees to use:
- they focus their efforts prospectively, looking to the future, rather than revisiting old hurts and inappropriate behavior.
- they speak only for themselves and do not characterize their spouse or tell the others what their spouse’s thoughts or motives are.
- they speak directly to their spouse, rather than about their spouse in the third person.
- they do not direct abusive language or names to their spouse.
- they listen respectfully when their spouse speaks, and rightfully expect the same courtesy in return.
- if their spouse makes a factual miscalculation or assumption, they point it out instead of taking advantage of it, adding to the safety and credibility of the process.
- all information necessary to make complete and informed decisions is supplied voluntarily, and the parties sign statements under oath that they have done so. Since the parties choose not to use the formal discovery processes which are more time-consuming and costly, but still need information, a thorough, accurate, voluntary disclosure by each party is expected and provided “Game-playing” can be the basis for dissolving the Col laborative discussion and may result in the case being litigated. Fraud also is a traditional basis for re-opening a property settlement after a divorce is final, under certain circumstances.
- no party or lawyer can threaten court action. “We’ll see you in court!” has been the final word in many a traditional settlement discussion, but obviously does little to resolve a dispute on terms acceptable to both parties.
Find out more
The Col laborative Institute website contains much useful information and answers many questions. But if you’d like a more specific idea of what’s involved, please call us at 952-893-9393. You can meet with us for a half-hour free of charge or obligation.
If you’d like additional time, our office subscribes to a practice started by a friend and colleague: If you will make a hundred-dollar donation to a Minnesota foodshelf, we’ll spend up to two hours listening to your circumstances and advising you about your options. The consultation is completely confidential and carries no obligation to retain our services.
The Nature of Fighting
People fight because they’re scared. Or they fight because they’re angry. But the old advice to “dig two graves” before seeking revenge was nev er more applicable than in divorce. If you want to punish your spouse by prolonging the conflict, remember that war plays no favorites. You’ll both be victims, because there are no “winners.”
A Collaborative divorce process will use one or more meetings of both parties and their Col laborative attorneys. The attorneys will explore with their clients the extent and nature of their marital estate so that everyone understands the issues in that particular divorce. The parties will then move on to generate options they might consider to resolve the issues. Once the options are laid out, it becomes easier to negotiate and make decisions.
The Proper Role of Litigation
The court system exists to level the playing field and provide at least a minimum of protection. When abuse or dishonesty have stained a marriage, the court may be your only hope. Family court judges hear cases and make decisions every day that are heart-rending. They are caring, highly educated, dedicated public servants. But they’ll nev er know as much about your family as you do. One of these judges puts it this way:
“It’s not in my job description to love your children. It’s my responsibility to decide where they’re going to live, and I will make that decision if I have to. But don’t you think that decision should be made by someone who loves them?”
Litigation may be your only choice in certain cases. But there are alternatives that will treat you and your family better if you both are willing to use them.