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Collaborative Divorce Process

Collaborative divorce is a process that enables couples to separate without the contentions of litigation. Instead, they sign an agreement to work with their respective lawyers and family professionals to settle the needs of both parties and any children involved. The participation agreement binds both to the process and disqualifies the representing lawyers to represent either in any subsequent domestic-related litigation.

History and Overview
The collaborative divorce process was created in 1990 by Minnesota family attorney Stuart Webb as an alternative to the traditional, and often contentious, divorce litigation. Since 1990, collaborative family law has been implemented throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia. The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals boast more than 22,000 attorneys worldwide trained in collaborative law. At least 46 states provide collaborative divorce services. Three states (California, North Carolina and Texas) have encoded collaborative law into their statutes.

In a collaborative law case, both parties and their lawyers meet in a series of joint sessions to try to reach an equitable settlement that is agreeable to both sides. The parties identify their respective goals, needs and interests and this identification sets the standard for the meetings. Both parties are also fully informed regarding the law and the legal consequences of certain choices.

Collaborative family law is similar to basic mediation in that both try to avoid an adversarial process. However, collaborative law requires that both parties agree not to take the dispute to court. Additionally, mediation is often mandated as part of the litigation process. In the collaborative process, both parties have attorneys to help facilitate the interests of each side while in mediation, the mediator is neutral and does not represent or advise either side.

If necessary, third party experts can be brought in to facilitate the process. Usually these third parties are trained specialists such as financial advisors or mental health professionals. If there are children involved, child specialists may be consulted to give advice on future parenting plans.

The Participation Agreement

The Participation Agreement in a collaborative divorce is a contract between the parties which outlines the rules of the process. The parties and lawyers must agree that:

1. The representing lawyers will disqualify themselves in any subsequent litigation if the process fails.
2. The parties must disclose all relevant material information;
3. Everything the parties say in the settlement meetings remains confidential;
4. One party cannot take advantage of any mistakes on the side of the other party;
5. Any experts that participate in the process must be jointly hired by both parties and remain neutral; and
6. Everyone must be courteous and act in good faith.

Consult an Attorney
The collaborative divorce process is a less adversarial way to dissolve a marriage. Both parties must agree to adhere to certain stipulations with the goal of reaching a final agreement that is equitable to everyone. Both sides should be represented by attorneys trained in collaborative law to help them through the process. Seek an experienced attorney who can represent your interests in the proceedings and eventually facilitate an outcome that is fair to all parties involved, including any children.

Please contact Patrick Markey Law Offices for more information.
Phone: (312) 223-1763 • E: patrick@markeylaw.com Source: divorcelawfirms.com