What is Collaborative Law?
Answer: It is a revolutionary new way of dealing with legal disputes. It is not limited to any area of practice but it is clearly rooted in family law.
Collaborative law is focused entirely upon settlement which is its only priority and goal. As a matter of fact, collaborative law prohibits the spouses and their attorneys from using the court system (except for routine processing of agreed papers).
COLLABORATIVE LAW GIVES SPOUSES TOTAL CONTROL OVER WHAT IS HAPPENING.
Both parties still hire their own lawyers but the lawyers serve as “settlement only” lawyers who sit down with the parties at group conferences and do everything they can to help produce an acceptable resolution. THERE IS NO COURT INTRUSION. The lawyers “put their money where their mouth is” and agree to be fired if the parties can’t reach a settlement. If that happens, the parties would then be free to proceed (with new attorneys) into the very legal system that they initially sought to avoid. This does not double the legal fees. Most of the work is transferable and does not have to be done again by the new lawyers. The collaborative attorneys help to make the transition a smooth one.
THERE IS NO COURT INTRUSION.
Lawyers working within the collaborative law model still provide the same degree of advocacy required of all lawyers, but they now employ non-adversarial tools and techniques. The lawyers receive training in managing conflict and in the use of cooperative and non-confrontational strategies. They act to minimize and remove the typical impediments to settlement, and they act to ensure that the legal system itself does not derail the chances of an amicable resolution.
In collaborative law, there are no adversarial courtroom proceedings, no traumatic hearings, no provocative declarations. Both attorneys intentionally do everything they can to prevent problems from escalating. If both parties have “good will” and are committed to trying to settle, then the path is cleared for them.
NO ADVERSARIAL COURTROOM PROCEEDINGS, NO TRAUMATIC HEARINGS, NO PROVOCATIVE DECLARATIONS.
Our traditional legal system is based on the assumption that the parties are adversaries and will stay so throughout the process. A direct by-product of this process is a competitive “win-die” approach to negotiation. The system requires the parties to see each other as opponents. They enter the litigation process with gladiator expectations and are greeted with the same attitude. This often exacerbates the negative emotions and feelings the parties may have for each other.
Settlement is not a priority in our present system, but winning is. Settlements are reached, but are often reached very close to (or on the eve of) trial. By that time, the parties are disillusioned by the legal process and complain that they have exhausted their spirits and their funds.
HAVE YOU EVER MET ANYONE WHO DOESN’T THINK LITIGATION TAKES TOO LONG & COSTS TOO MUCH?
The fact is that over 90% of all divorce cases settle without going to trial. Litigants routinely spend months preparing for trial that (statistically, at least) isn’t going to happen. Proponents of collaborative law believe that the energy that was formerly used in preparing to litigate should now be used (at the front-end of the process) in trying to settle.
Collaborative law provides spouses with an opportunity to be heard and gives them control over what is happening to them. They are not “out of the loop” but are, indeed, the main characters (and not mere spectators) in their own dramas.
OVER 90% OF ALL DIVORCE CASES SETTLE WITHOUT GOING TO TRIAL.
The collaborative model attempts to create a dynamic for settlement. Because the court won’t be involved, resolution cannot occur until the other party says “Yes”. That will not happen if the other party is being insulted, disrespected or otherwise treated negatively. If you need the other side’s agreement to get what you want, and he or she wants the same things you want, and neither of you is allowed to go to court to get those things, then resolution can only occur through the use of efficient diplomacy and creativity, which are the hallmarks of collaborative lawyering.
Collaborative law is midway between mediation and litigation in the dispute resolution continuum. It isn’t for every spouse, it isn’t for every lawyer and it isn’t for every case. If it’s used, it provides the parties with control of every aspect of their case, including timing, outcome and cost.
No other professional dispute resolution method is consistently as efficient and economical as collaborative law.
Click here to learn the Benefits of Collaborative Law
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Richard and Kari are staunch advocates of the non-court approach to divorce, and are also active and seasoned litigators with over 60 years of combined trial experience in the Illinois divorce courts of Cook, DuPage, and Will counties.
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