As part of the collaborative law process, both parties retain separate collaboratively trained attorneys, whom are engaged for the sole purpose of settling the dispute. No one in signed collaborative case may go to court. If that is needed or requested, the collaborative law process terminates and both attorneys are disqualified from any further involvement in the case.
Each party in the Collaborative law process signs a contractual agreement that includes the following terms:
Full Disclosure of Documents.
Each party agrees to honestly and openly disclose all documents and information relating to the case. The attorneys to the process expect counterpart counsel to ensure that his or her client has provided the necessary information requested. It is also agreed that neither spouse may take advantage of a miscalculation or an inadvertent mistake of the other. Instead, such errors are identified and corrected.
Each party agrees to act respectfully during the process. The parties are expected to avoid disparaging remarks of the other spouse.
Interest Based Solutions.
The foundation of the collaborative law process is to identify each spouse’s goals and interests for the resolution. Then options are generated and analyzed to determine which ones can meet the interests of both parties and resolve the dispute. It is important to recognize that a deal cannot be made if both spouses do not believe their interests have been understood and addressed. The resolutions of family disputes and divorce cases often mean that neither party is able to obtain everything they want, but are willing to compromise and accept an outcome that they can individually accept.
Interdisciplinary Team of Professionals.
The lawyers at Goldberg Evans have received specific advanced training to understand the unique challenges of divorce negotiations. The collaborative law model encourages spouses to bring in professionals with a range of expertise to help the parties understand and resolve their disputes. Every dispute is different, but often we see spouses deal with financial concerns, fear of the unknown, and worry about the impact of the transition on children. Our professional teams can include mental health providers, financial advisors, accountants, business experts, or retirement experts.
Divorce and custody negotiations are unique, in that the “other side” is a person that you have shared an intimate relationship. This fact creates an emotional undercurrent that exists throughout the negotiation. If this is not recognized and managed, that undercurrent will often cause waves that will capsize the boat.
Family Relations Specialists
(FRS) are trained mental health professionals engaged in a neutral non-therapeutic role. They are the keeper of the process and manage the emotional undercurrent. Often this undercurrent can also involve the lawyers. They provide guidance to the spouses and other professionals as they navigate the negotiation. The FRS will often meet with parents separately from full team meetings to discuss children specific issues. In contested court cases, children become the unintended victims. They internalize the conflict and often blame themselves for the break up of their family. An FRS can assist parents in helping their children cope and communicate about their feelings and ensure the parents allow them a safe space.
are financial advisors or accountants that receive training specific to divorce. Whether we represent a spouse earning income and fully aware of the financial landscape of the family, or we represent a spouse that has limited knowledge of the family’s financial picture, a financial neutral can be essential. This professional is able to distill a lot of information in a digestible way so meetings can be more efficient. They can present financial information through a neutral lens so it can be trusted by everyone at the table or simply help define values of assets.
The parties often agree to implement other outside experts, when needed. This can be for the purpose of appraising real estate or business interests, evaluating earning potential of a spouse, or evaluating a specific retirement plan. The spouses agree to the expert(s) and share the costs. In the litigious court process often redundant appraisals are performed by one expert for each party. The end result is a duplication of services at greater cost and with increased distrust. This often results in an expensive battle of experts at trial where each expert testifies regarding their different valuations. In the collaborative process, the parties agree to an expert that that is not associated with either party. With a trust relationship established, the parties agree on some division of cost and can agree to be bound by the appraised value.
Neither party may seek or threaten court action to resolve disputes. If the collaborative process terminates because a party decides to go to court, the attorneys must withdraw from representation and the spouses hire new counsel for the litigation process. This clause ensures that the turbulent negotiations do not result in needless threats or rash decisions, but rather focuses the parties to find a solution.
Most Cases Settle.
It is generally accepted that at least of 90% of all divorce cases are resolved without a trial. In the Court system that resolution often comes on the eve of a trial after great expense and emotional warfare. The damage is done and often can never be repaired. The Collaborative Process seeks resolution before the bridges are burned and shots are fired in the courtroom.
Collaborative Law may not work in all cases as it requires two willing participants. At Goldberg Evans, we will work with you in determining the best process for your family.