What is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative Law is a form of alternative dispute resolution developed over 25 years ago in Minnesota by Stuart G. Webb. Since then, the practice has spread to all 50 states, as well as to other parts of the world.
Collaborative Law focuses on helping the clients in divorce resolve their dispute reach a negotiated resolution without going to court. It is a team-based approach founded on a set of principles that significantly changes the dynamics between clients and engages them outside of the courtroom in an open, supportive, lower-conflict process to find shared solutions.
The Collaborative Process is a voluntary, contractually based out-of-court conflict resolution process in which the client, along with their Collaborative Lawyers and other Collaborative Professionals, focus all efforts on a peaceful, non-adversarial resolution.
Central tenets of the Collaborative Process include:
- A promise to reach a resolution without court intervention or the threat of court intervention.
- Collaborative lawyers have advanced training in settlement negotiations and are focused on supporting a client-driven process. Should the clients choose a different process after engaging in the Collaborative process, the settlement lawyers will transition the clients to an appropriate professional.
- A promise by all participants to negotiate in good faith by remaining open and flexible, disclosing all pertinent information and using constructive and respectful communication methods.
How does the Collaborative Process Work?
When you choose Thurston County Collaborative Professionals, you will work with a team of professionals to avoid the arbitrary and uncertain outcomes of Court litigation and to achieve a settlement that best meets the specific needs of both clients and their family as a whole.
Focusing on settlement, Thurston County Collaborative Professionals offer a more healthy and effective forum for the resolution of a couple’s divorce.
The goals of the Collaborative Process are to help the couple define and implement the settlement that best meets the needs of their family, and to help the parties learn new skills for more effective communication, conflict resolution and post-divorce co-parenting.
Each party is represented by an attorney throughout the process for support, legal advice, and assistance with the legal documents necessary to accomplish a divorce.
In order to accomplish these goals, professionals are available to work together as a team to help couples in divorce resolve their issues.
If the clients start the process by selecting attorneys, the attorneys can help the clients decide which other professionals are best suited to the family’s needs. These other professionals might include divorce coaches, family specialists, child specialists, and financial specialists.
If the clients begin the process by selecting a divorce coach, family specialist, child specialist, or a financial specialist, these professionals can help the clients select attorneys or other professionals that would best fit your family’s needs.
Why Collaborative Law Works
The Collaborative Law Process removes your case from the public eye. Court pleadings are public documents and may be purchased by anyone online with the Superior Court of record. Declarations regarding your financial matters and parenting may be purchased by complete strangers who have merely to look up your name.
Control Over Outcome
In traditional litigation, a judge who has never met you or your family before makes decisions impacting you and your children for the rest of your lives. Court rules, legislation, and prior court cases factor into the judge’s decision, along with dueling arguments from the attorneys. Vague standards like “best interest of the child” and “fair and equitable” make for varying and unpredictable outcomes.
The Collaborative Law Process is specifically designed to assist high conflict couples. Many people think they are unable to “collaborate” with their spouse. That is exactly why this process is so powerful. Experienced professionals guide the participants through a time-tested process that will enable them to arrive at a mutually acceptable resolution.
Many times participants can agree to numerous provisions, but one or more topics generate seemingly insurmountable conflict. Through the years, the Collaborative Law Process has developed a number of proven resources to help participants find resolution.
Knowledge is Power
Third party neutral professionals are available to educate participants with information needed to make informed decisions. For example, “Financial Specialists” can help remove guess work and fear of the unknown. Professionals known as “Divorce Coaches” can help participants navigate through emotional issues to find satisfactory reso
utions. Professionals, called “Child Specialists” or “Family Specialists,” will take time to learn about the unique qualities and
priorities of your family. These professionals are neutral with a helpful wealth of knowledge and experience in developing Parenting Plans. Armed with information, parents may confidently craft a custom Parenting Plan suited to their unique family.
Collaborative Law Cases are typically far less expensive than similar litigated cases. In traditional litigation, parties spend thousands of dollars paying their lawyers to draft pleadings, attend hearings regarding motions, and prepare for a trial that does not usually take place. In spite of all of the litigation preparation, most cases ultimately settle before trial. In the alternative, every dollar spent in a Collaborative Law case is exclusively dedicated to achieving the goal of resolution everyone can live with.
Collaborative Law is not new. It has been practiced successfully for over 25 years. It is widely practiced in the U.S., Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, Europe, South Africa, Brazil, Israel, and Hong Kong. Due to rapid expanse of the practice in the U.S., the Uniform Collaborative Law Act was adopted by the Uniform Law Commission in 2009, and has now been adopted in numerous states, including Washington State in July 2013. RCW 7.77.