Both spouses must agree to work in a collaborative setting and commit to following the rules of the collaborative law process. The parties and their respective attorneys execute a written agreement to participate in the collaborative law process. The agreement expresses the intent of the parties to use the skills of counsel to reach a settlement without using the courtroom and focuses the participants on problem solving. Once an agreement is signed between the parties and their respective attorneys, they are bound to the negotiation process.
The collaborative law process centers around joint meetings between the parties, allowing parents to work together to resolve important issues related to child custody, possession and access, as well as support for their children, providing an alternative to litigation. The parties and their attorneys meet at different times throughout the divorce process in four-way sessions to reach a settlement without involving the court. The participants focus on the interests of the parties and gathering sufficient information to insure that decisions are made with full knowledge, discussing a full range of options, and choosing options that best meet the needs of the parties.
The structure of the collaborative law process, along with the skill of counsel, creates a problem-solving atmosphere with a focus on interest-based negotiation and client empowerment. Every issue of concern to the parties, including property division, child custody, possession and access, and support, among others, is discussed at different times during the sessions. Formal discovery is replaced by voluntary information gathering and exchange.
At times, Mental Health Professionals and Financial Experts who remain neutral in the process, may become part of the “team” to assist couples in reaching resolutions. These professionals are also trained in collaborative law and can assist the parties with parenting issues, communication issues, or analyzing the assets and liabilities for purposes of asset division and planning a budget and the parties’ financial future. Divorcing parties benefit from the skills, advice, and support of attorneys and other professionals while striving to work things out in a positive, future-focused manner.
Collaborative law provides a positive context for divorcing couples or couples who have already divorced and need to modify custody agreements so that these concerns can be resolved amicably without acrimonious litigation. The process offers a structured setting where you and your spouse are given the opportunity to focus on what is important to you, your family and your future.
Parties agree to collaborate and not litigate: The agreement between the parties not to go to court during the collaborative law process facilitates the communication between the parties, reducing anxiety and fear, helping each party to be open and honest, and focusing on finding positive solutions.
Negotiations are based on a team concept: Both parties, their attorneys, a neutral financial expert and neutral mental health expert meet together in joint meetings, taking into consideration all of the contested issues, while working together to reach a mutually acceptable agreement regarding the division of property and in the best interest of the children.
The parties work out the details of their divorce settlement together: The parties, their attorneys and other neutral professionals work together to dissolve the marriage in a way that addresses everyone’s legal, financial and emotional needs. The parties reach a settlement agreement between themselves while benefiting from their respective lawyer’s advocacy, problem-solving and negotiating skills.
The collaborative process is usually less costly and time-consuming than litigation. When you reach an agreement, it can be finalized within a shorter time frame. When a settlement is reached, attorneys file the appropriate paperwork required by the court and then schedule a date to appear before the judge to finalize the divorce.
At the Law Office of Alma R. Benavides, we understand that Divorce is a life-changing event that will affect you and your entire family – most importantly, your children. There is no pain-free way to end a marriage, but by reducing stress, working in a climate of cooperation, and treating each other with respect and dignity, you and your spouse are creating an environment in which you and your children can thrive after divorce. The collaborative law process allows couples to reach solutions in the best interest of the family.
Please call us toll free at (972) 578-2600 or fill out our short intake form to speak with attorney Alma Benavides about the collaborative law process.