Collaborative law is a relatively new concept that has gained broad acceptance due to its ability to minimize conflicts in divorces and other family law matters. If you and your spouse or partner are willing to work together, this approach may be the best option for resolving your differences.
In divorces and other family law matters, it is often in everyone’s best interests to keep their private affairs out of court. This is why, at McMichen, Cinami & Demps, we make every effort to protect our clients from having to go to trial. The stress, cost, and time commitment involved in litigation can tear families apart. Our goal is to help our clients forge new and different relationships that allow them to move on with their lives.
Fortunately, spouses and other family members have several options when it comes to avoiding the burdens and consequences of litigation. One of these options is what is known as “collaborative law.”
About Collaborative Law
With collaborative law, the parties agree in writing not to take their differences to court. Instead, they commit to a process that is designed to foster fairness and openness and ultimately lead to a solution that work for all parties involved. Unlike mediation, where the parties work with a neutral third party who helps them understand each other’s point of view, the parties and their counsel work directly with one another and with other professionals in order to arrive at a mutually-agreeable resolution.
If both parties are willing to commit to the process, it can save a significant amount of time and expense while also avoiding the ill will and negative feelings that often come with going to court. At McMichen, Cinami & Demps, we often encourage the use of the this type of process to help clients resolving issues relating to:
There are several hallmarks to the collaborative law process. The first is that the parties sign a written agreement demonstrating their commitment to use collaborative law. This agreement not only confirms the parties’ commitment to work together in good faith, but also states that if either party later decides to go to court, then both parties will be required to hire new attorneys. Hiring new attorneys in the middle of a divorce or other family law dispute is expensive, and it slows down the process. As a result, the commitment to hire new litigation attorneys provides a strong incentive for the parties to remain true to the collaborative process.
Getting Expert Help
With divorces in particular, there are several complicated issues that will need to be resolved. From the equitable distribution of marital property to setting a time-sharing schedule and calculating alimony and child support, in many cases spouses simply do not have the expertise they need to resolve their differences on their own. In order to address this issue, parties to the collaborative process will include mental health and financial professionals in order to help guide their discussions.
Importantly, the goal is not to have these experts make decisions on behalf of the parties. Rather, they are simply there to help the parties make sure that they fully understand and explore the options that are available.
Hiring Separate Attorneys
The third major hallmark of the collaborative process is that each party is represented by his or her own attorney. As with any legal proceeding, during the process it is critical to have an experienced advocate who has your best interests in mind. That said, you also want an attorney who is familiar with the collaborative process, and who will work with you to find a creative solution rather than steering you toward the courthouse doors.
Closing the Collaborative Process
Once the collaborative process is complete, the parties will finalize their agreement in writing. In many family law matters (such as divorces and modifications) this agreement requires court approval; however, the Florida courts generally favor enforcing reasonable agreements. During this type of legal process, your attorney will help make sure that your agreement complies with the law so that you will not have issues when it is time to finalize your matter in court.
Contact Us for More Information about Collaborative Law
If you live in the Orlando area, and would like to learn more about how we can help you with the collaborative process, please contact us today for a free consultation. Our attorneys are committed to helping resolve issues amicably and in the most cost-effective way possible. Please call us at (407) 898-2616 to learn how we can help you.