Many of my clients are engaged in Collaborative Law, a form of dispute resolution that grew out of dissatisfaction with the negative emotional side-effects of litigation in family law cases. In a Collaborative Law divorce, both spouses and both attorneys commit contractually to staying out of court, to sharing financial and other information freely, and to working cooperatively and creatively to reach resolution. Attorneys work alongside other professionals (mental health practitioners, child specialists, financial analysts, mortgage brokers and/or vocational counselors) so that clients benefit from the range of expertise offered by an interdisciplinary team all focused on helping them resolve problems and plan for the future. By channeling work to professionals best equipped to do it well and efficiently, and by exchanging information and insights openly, the team is able to keep clients’ costs in control while fostering positive experiences and positive results.
Most importantly for couples with children, Collaborative Law helps parents begin the next phase of their own and their children’s lives in the spirit of cooperation that they will need in the future. Too often, conflict-ridden divorces make future parenting more difficult to navigate. Children suffer. Collaborative Law, by contrast, makes the family’s future the foremost concern. By addressing emotional needs of spouses and children during the divorce, by encouraging open and honest communication, and by removing the temptation to “win” in court that often leads to lingering wounds, Collaborative Law seeks to ease the family’s transition and help establish new communication patterns so that former spouses can be good co-parents and so that children do not carry their parents’ scars.
Collaborative Law can be an effective dispute resolution method not only in divorces, but also for other types of matters including parenting plan or child support disputes, prenuptial and cohabitation agreements, civil matters, and probate. I welcome clients with any type of dispute as long as all parties are willing to commit to staying out of court and engage only collaboratively-trained professionals.
More information about Collaborative Law can be found at these websites: www.kingcountycollab.org, www.collaborativeprofessionalsofwashington.org, and www.collaborativepractice.com.