Helping Your Clients Outside of the Courtroom – Part 3
Collaborative Law is a cooperative approach to negotiating and settling the issues arising from a separation without the necessity of litigation (not going to court to resolve differences). According to the Mecklenburg County Collaborative Law Family Practice Group, “Separated spouses, with the assistance of specially trained family law attorneys, negotiate their issues, as they define them, in a controlled, safe, and respectful setting. While the meetings are structured negotiations between the spouses and their lawyers, the environment is one that is less formal and threatening than court. These “Four-way Meetings” allow the spouses to explore their issues together, as they define them, in their voices.
The lawyers act both as communication/negotiation coaches for their clients, and simultaneously fulfill their typical role of advising their clients about their legal positions, entitlements and obligations. The parties focus on effectively communicating to gather facts and discover each other’s interests. Emotional tactics, threats, or abusive communications are all identified, discussed and eliminated. The lawyers, having agreed not to take part in any litigation that may occur if an agreement isn’t reached, efficiently focus their time and effort solely on settlement rather than posturing or preparing documents or themselves for court. Everyone, including the lawyers, is focused on together creating a stable, fair, legal agreement that works for “this family.”
If your client likes the idea of compromise, and wants to avoid battling it out in the courtroom, you should consider recommending a Collaborative Law approach. It is worth noting that in real life, this approach means that if the client fails at resolutions by these alternative measures, they then have to find new counsel – which incurs more cost in both time and money. Incentive to resolution? Absolutely.
Collaborative Law allows your client and their spouse to keep the decisions involved in separation and divorce in their hands. Collaborative cases often use resources such as divorce coaches, financial advisors, life insurance advisors, and more – and often at a lower cost than a traditional approach to divorce. The hitch, however, is that both parties have to agree on this approach. But if they can agree – if they can think forward instead of backward – then it may be the first step towards a resolution that works for them and their family.