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Divorce and Collaborative Law—Taking the “High Road”

Wednesday, November, 7, 2012


Collaborative law is the name given to a form of dispute resolution in which disputes are kept from litigation through a process of troubleshooting and problem solving.  In collaborative law, parties who are engaged in conflict retain separate attorneys and agree to keep the case out of court. 

In collaborative law, each party signs a contract agreeing upon full disclosure of documents and the sharing of experts when necessary.  This means that if a real estate appraiser, parenting consultant, accountant, or other outside professional is consulted regarding the disagreement, the parties will agree to cooperate and share the expense of hiring that professional to help resolve the dispute. 

The most significant difference between collaborative law and taking a case to court through litigation is the process of collaboration that each party engages in to resolve the dispute.  Most people have heard horror stories of divorcing couples who spend thousands of dollars in a divorce arguing over household items, property or child custody.  When litigation occurs, emotions run high and the “fight or flight” instinct kicks in, causing each party to go on the offense against the other.  However, in collaborative law, rather than attacking unfairly, the parties engaged in conflict discus how they can resolve the situation so that it is a win-win for both interests.  This type of collaborative problem-solving allows each person involved to feel like their voice is being heard, keeping emotional outbursts and tactics to a minimum.  

Collaborative law focuses on finding solutions that are agreeable and fair to everyone involved, including the children in cases of divorce or separation.  By keeping negative emotions at a minimum and focusing on working together as co-parents even if they can no longer live together as husband and wife, the divorcing couple can use collaborative law to make the best out of a bad situation so that everyone can move on and heal.