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Divorce mediation with psychologist
Why is Collaborative Practice such an effective settlement process?

One key factor that makes Collaborative Practice an effective way to reach a settlement is the team approach and overlapping of goals.  The parties have the benefit of everyone, not just his or her own “side”, working together to reach a specific goal.  The team can answer questions in real time, deal with personality issues, address wants/needs right away, and creatively solve child issues in a way the court system is not designed to accomplish.

Why is Collaborative process different from using the courts?

When a divorcing party goes to court to reach a decision to resolve family law matters, it is easy to view the former partner as an adversary. The divorce can become a battleground. The inevitable conflict often has far-reaching consequences, not just for the parties, but their children.  Not to mention, there is a large financial cost , which can pale in comparison to the emotional and psychological cost.

Choosing the Collaborative Process offers a respectful option focused on reaching agreement, not battling an adversary. The lawyers pledge in writing not to go to court. The spouses and the lawyers negotiate in good faith, and work together to achieve mutually agreeable settlement outside of court. Collaborative Practice eases the emotional strains of a breakup and protects the well-being of children. Unlike a court process, Collaborative Process also allows you the opportunity to explore emotional issues and look to more creative financial and parenting solutions  - options that might not be available to a judge.

My lawyer says she settles most of her own cases. How is Collaborative Practice different from what she does when she settles in a conventional practice?

While a settlement approach is a good start, this is not the same as Collaborative Practice.  A lawyer can still revert to “filing suit” and abandoning the efforts of working toward a settlement at any point.  Indeed, an attorney may be forced to advise a client to litigate in some instances.  When the litigation option is removed, and divorcing parties start with respect and honesty, there is an increased chance they will keep working to compromise appropriately and continue working toward a better agreement.

How is Collaborative Practice different from mediation?

Mediation is the process of using a neutral person to facilitate negotiations and works with the parties to resolve their dispute.  However, the mediator cannot give either of you legal advice or be an advocate for either side.  The parties can appear with or without a lawyer.  If the parties do not reach a resolution after working with a mediator, then the mediation has failed.  If you were to take lawyers to mediation, there is the cost for three professionals. If you go to mediation on your own, you may feel worried about making the wrong choice. Often, parties may reach a tentative agreement, which is subsequently reviewed by their own lawyer after-the-fact. If a party learns of the need to add additional terms having been given legal advice from a lawyer, this could disrupt the mediation process.  Collaborative Process addresses these problems.

Collaborative Practice is designed to deal more effectively by having counsel and the parties work to solve their dispute in a team approach with everyone present, so the commitment to settlement is not disrupted. Each side has the benefit to professional legal advice during the process. If one side or the other lacks negotiating skill or financial understanding, the playing field is leveled by the presence of the trained advocates. It is the job of the lawyers to work with their own clients if the clients are being unreasonable, to ensure that the process stays positive and productive.

Is Collaborative Practice a faster way to get a divorce?

While each case is different, Collaborative Practice can be a more direct form of divorce. From the outset, it focuses on problem solving.  Everyone sharing information openly allows parties to make decisions and put priority items at the top of the list, rather than waiting for a hearing with a Judge.  Litigation is time-consuming and the calendar is based on the court rather than your family’s needs.

What if my spouse or partner choses a lawyer who doesn’t know about collaborative practice?

A good working relationship between the attorneys is essential for the Collaborative Practice process to work. Further, the professionals working with the parties are sincere in their concern about making the divorce less contentious.  There are differing values between taking an adversarial litigation approach and that of a Collaborative advisor.  Unless the lawyers can rely on one another’s representations, trusting there is full disclosure, there insufficient protection against dishonesty  -- and trust is key. A Collaborative lawyer must withdraw from representing a dishonest client.  Thus, each lawyer must know, before signing on to the formal Collaborative Practice process (involving disqualification of the lawyers from representation in court if the Collaborative Practice process fails) the other lawyer will be engaged in the same way.

Moreover, collaborative requires special skills from the lawyers–skills in guiding negotiations, and in managing conflict. These are often counter to the skills in the adversarial approach where each side is trying to maximize the financial outcome.  Taking this approach makes it tough for a non-collaboratively trained attorney to work effectively in a Collaborative Practice team negotiation.

What does collaborative practice do to minimize the hostility often present in divorce?

The guiding principle of Collaborative Practice is respect. This respectful tone encourages you to show compassion, understanding, and cooperation.

Furthermore, Collaborative professionals are trained in non-confrontational negotiation, helping keep discussions productive.

The goal of Collaborative Practice is to build a settlement on areas of agreement, not to perpetuate disagreement.

How does collaborative practice work step by step?

When you decide on a Collaborative Practice divorce, each of you hires a Collaborative Practice lawyer. Everyone agrees in writing not to go to court.

Next, you meet privately and in face-to-face talks with your lawyers. Additional experts, such as divorce coaches and child and financial specialists, may join the process or are perhaps the first professional that you see.

All meetings are intended to produce an honest exchange of information and clear understanding about needs and expectations, especially concerning the well-being of children.

Mutual problem-solving by all parties leads to the final divorce agreement.

How do I get started?

Feel free to contact any of our members for more information.

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