Collaborative Law is a better option for divorcing families than traditional litigation. The Court system was never created with families in mind—family disputes, including divorces, were simply grafted onto a legal system designed to handle liability disputes, criminal matters, and business dissolutions. Divorcing is an emotional process that involves restructuring your family, so we believe the process should reflect that first.
What is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative Law is an out-of-court alternative to litigation, in which both parties retain their own collaboratively trained attorneys to work together, while maintaining their roles as advocates with strict confidentiality, in a series of meetings to figure out how best to address your family’s unique concerns and ultimately find a legal resolution that everyone is willing to accept. In addition to the attorneys and their clients, each team typically has a mental health neutral and financial neutral, who are also collaboratively trained. The mental health neutral ensures that the meetings are run productively and that everyone’s viewpoints are heard and works with the family to create a parenting plan that is best for the children. The financial neutral gathers all the financial information from the parties, analyzes it and compiles it into easy-to-understand presentations so everyone has a comprehensive picture of your family’s entire financial situation.
How Are Meetings Run?
We know, you hear the word “meeting” and instantly conjure up the image of an inefficient group of individuals either checked out or competing to talk, while somehow saying nothing of significance. We too are leery of the dreaded “meeting” in which nothing gets done, yet it takes forever. Collaborative meetings are entirely different. The team is protective of everyone’s time and limits each meeting to two hours for the parties, with some additional time before and after the meeting for the professionals to discuss matters. Each meeting is guided by an agenda, which is prepared ahead of time to ensure that everyone stays on track.
The Collaborative process can be summed up into the following: First, gather all of the information needed. Second, explore and build options for each unique family based on the information. Third, you decide which options are acceptable to both parties, and we formalize the decisions in a written Marital Settlement Agreement.
Some of the Benefits of Collaborative:
- A Support Network. You will receive the support of the entire team, who can answer questions, address concerns, engage in option building, and find additional resources which may be helpful for your divorce (a certified divorce mortgage lender, certified divorce coach, estate planning attorney, special needs expert, etc.).
- Flexible Timeline. The collaborative process can move as quickly or as slowly as you want. The team is not beholden to court deadlines and has flexibility to create the process that goes at the speed you need. Even slower collaborative matters resolve much quicker than traditional litigation divorces, which can get bogged down in the court system for years.
- Privacy Protection. The collaborative process occurs outside of the court system, and as such all of the information gathering and option building occurs discreetly in a private setting. We are able to obtain your Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage with minimal court filings, compared to an ordinary divorce in which all sorts of documents exposing all kinds of private details must be filed with the court, which is open and available to the public.
- Your Interests Matter. A key component of the collaborative process is learning what both parties’ goals and interests are during and after the process. This is what makes your family unique. Maybe financial security is of utmost concern to you. Perhaps staying in the school zone your children are currently zoned for is most important. Or it could be that you would like to be able to afford a new home after the divorce is complete. Just as there are countless families in the world, there are countless interests and goals that make your family unique. The collaborative method integrates those goals and interests directly into the process, whereas litigation uses the same approach to every family law situation, regardless of the complexities of each family.
Artemis Family Law Group is passionate about finding creative solutions for restructuring families. We believe in finding answers to your problems, not making them worse. We understand that collaborative law may be new to you, and we welcome the opportunity to discuss it further with you. Please click here to schedule a consultation at your convenience.
Frequently asked Questions
The cost depends on how much time your collaborative matter takes to reach full resolution. While we have had collaborative matters resolve in one meeting as well as seven or more meetings, our experience is that the average matter takes around three to five meetings to reach resolution. Our office offers flexible pricing options, including flat-fee, pay-per-meeting, and lower cost hourly options, depending on your family’s financial means. We firmly believe that the collaborative process should be available to all families, regardless of income level.
Not at all. While it certainly helps to be on good terms with your spouse, we understand that is not always going to be the case. Collaborative is a better option than litigation for spouses who are not on good terms because the team can work to ensure that everyone is heard and that emotional conflicts are reduced. Litigation tends to inflame already tense situations and make them worse.
No. Anything you share with your attorney remains confidential and private unless and until you approve sharing it with the team. There are times when it is not appropriate to share every thought with the team and your attorney is there to listen to your concerns, questions, and opinions, without having to worry that these will make their way back to the whole team. That said, transparency is one of the key components of a collaborative divorce, so you are expected to share all needed financial information in order to explore options and make decisions. A breakdown in transparency will lead to a breakdown in the process.
Either. Before Covid-19, the vast majority of team meetings occurred in person. Because of the adjustments that had to be made during the pandemic, the majority of meetings now occur online, to great success. We leave it up to the clients to decide their preference.
Yes. We believe that it is best to have a full professional team, composed of two attorneys, a mental health neutral and a financial neutral. However, we understand that your situation may be relatively straightforward and one or both neutrals may not be necessary. We offer many flexible options to ensure that collaborative is available to each family.
No. It is important that we employ neutrals who can maintain their neutrality. It is also important that we ensure that every professional team member is collaboratively trained.