Each party hires a specially trained, registered Collaborative Family Lawyer, and other Collaborative professionals as needed, and all work together in a cooperative, non-adversarial process. The goal is a mutually acceptable agreement on all issues rather than an agreement that requires a lot of compromise of what really matters to you.
You, your spouse, and your lawyers promise in writing to voluntarily disclose all financial and other relevant information, to proceed respectfully and in good faith as you negotiate toward a settlement and to refrain from using or threatening to use the court litigation process. There are no threatening letters between lawyers, no unreasonable positions, no affidavits with hurtful accusations.
A key component of a successful Collaborative Process is the four-way meeting. It’s a structured setting in which both parties and their lawyers communicate and negotiate directly with one another.
The four-way meeting – and the whole Collaborative Process – is a team approach to resolving family law disputes. If and when you need additional Collaborative professionals, such as mental health or financial specialists, you bring them into the Process.
Because everyone involved is committed to voluntarily disclosing necessary information, formal measures force disclosure are unnecessary. And there is no place for argumentative, accusatory, or threatening letters between lawyers.
In the Collaborative Process, interest-based negotiation is utilized by your lawyers. This is an approach to dispute resolution which helps redirect the parties from wanting a certain outcome, or taking a certain position, and refocuses them on underlying needs, wants, values and objectives.
When the parties agree on what’s truly important to them – for example, if both of you want your children to stay in their current school district – you engage in interest-based negotiation. That way, you build the resolution that best addresses your common objective. Interest-based negotiation encourages win-win oriented discussions, creative problem solving, and settlements that meet the needs of all members of the family.
Once an agreement is reached on all of the issues, a written agreement is drafted by the lawyers. If you were married, the key terms in the agreement are repeated in a final divorce judgment which is signed by a judge.