Collaborative Law is an alternative dispute resolution method that empowers parties to resolve their own legal disputes outside of the courtroom in a safe and supportive environment. It allows parties to craft divorce and family law agreements that make sense for them and their families and is typically less expensive than a litigated case. It minimizes the negative emotional upheaval associated with a divorce and can often result in a more efficient and expedient settlement.

Attorneys trained in the collaborative process operate from a different paradigm than a litigating attorney, and are committed to resolving disputes out of court by engaging in open, honest and respectful communication with their clients. They also agree to withdraw from the case if either party decides to pursue court intervention and cannot assist their client in litigation. This protects the integrity of the process and enables attorneys to focus on assisting their clients in reaching a satisfactory resolution without going to trial.

As part of the collaborative process, the lawyers Collaborative Law participate in a series of meetings with their clients, and, when appropriate, other professionals, such as financial specialists, coaches or child specialists are utilized. Unlike mediation, both parties are represented by their own collaboratively trained lawyer that provides them with legal advice throughout the process. All participants sign a participation agreement that commits them to resolving the case collaboratively without going to trial, and, in the event either party chooses to go to trial, both attorneys must withdraw from the case and the clients must retain new litigation counsel.

During the collaborative process, all major negotiations take place during carefully scheduled meetings that include all the parties and their lawyers. During these meetings, the lawyers negotiate with each other in private while the clients and coach/facilitator listen in to ensure that their interests are being fully represented.

The collaborative process is designed to address all issues that are commonly raised in a divorce such as property division, alimony, child and spousal support. In addition, collaborative cases can be complex and may involve issues such as a business valuation or division, real estate, pensions and retirement plans and tax consequences.

Collaborative lawyers work with their clients to identify their needs, interests and goals and to develop creative solutions that make sense for them and their families. The attorneys explain the legal options and ramifications of each option and help their clients reach an agreement that they are comfortable with.

In a collaborative case, the financial professionals are neutrals that provide both parties with expert financial advice in the process and at the time of the settlement. Unlike the court system, where a financial expert is retained by each party, and the experts often disagree on their valuations leading to a costly war of experts at trial, in a collaborative case, the financial professional is selected and chosen by both parties from an approved list of experts and is required to be neutral. This helps build trust in the process.