What is the collaborative law team?
The Collaborative team is a group of professionals, each skilled in their own area of expertise, working for the benefit of you, your spouse and your children. It is very much like a medical team in which different specialists focus on the care and needs of the patient.
The Collaborative team consists of:
- A Collaborative lawyer for each spouse
- Financial Neutral
- Neutral Facilitator
- Allied Professionals (as needed)
Whereas conventional divorce often involves exchanging demands and accusations, the Collaborative approach proceeds on the basis of mutual cooperation, respect and option building. Some characteristics of the Collaborative process include:
- the team seeks to understand what is important for each client and the family unit;
- the team offers targeted legal, mental health and financial support;
- the team brainstorms, avoid judgment, and refrains from positional arguments;
- the focus is on problem solving and exploring options, facilitating creative outcomes;
- ultimatums, roadblocks, barriers and negative criticism are prohibited;
- the common goal is to support and empower the parties to reach settlement.
You and your spouse are integral parts of the team. Collaborative lawyers view their professional obligations differently from litigation attorneys. Collaborative attorneys are not adversaries but are partners in the problem-solving process.
The Collaborative Attorney:
Collaborative lawyers are not hired guns. They do not threaten, insult, or focus on past wrongs or the negative. Your Collaborative attorney will encourage and support you to identify and achieve goals which will result in amicable settlement by:
- assisting you in gathering and analyzing information;
- helping you examine needs and interests to develop settlement options and packages;
- helping you evaluate possible solutions;
- helping you evaluate settlement options in the context of established legal precedent;
- preparing and filing the necessary documentation which will ultimately result in entry of a Final Judgment of Divorce.
A Collaborative Financial Professional:
Frequently one party in the divorce is less informed when it comes to the family finances. That party may react in a number of ways: terror, curiosity, feeling overwhelmed. When that is the case, it is essential to bring a Financial Neutral into the process. The Financial Neutral will be beneficial by presenting financial issues and information in an understandable, unbiased format. For the first time in their financial lives the parties may be able to look at their finances in a safe and non-threatening environment. The Financial Neutral will:
- gather financial data;
- prepare statements of net worth;
- develop different financial/support scenarios for clients to evaluate;
- provide financial guidance, planning, support and budgeting throughout the divorce process, with follow up as needed;
- explain the tax implications and consequences of alternative scenarios;
- assist in evaluating your assets and debt.
Collaborative Neutral Facilitator:
A Neutral Facilitator is a licensed Mental Health Professional with specialized training in the Collaborative process. Neutral Facilitators add expertise by way of facilitating helpful and healthful communication among the spouses. In doing so, Neutral Facilitator:
- helps you develop and reinforce effective communication skills;
- helps your awareness and perspective on relationship dynamics, including identifying and navigating emotional triggers;
- helps the couple avoid and manage emotional impasses;
- helps to emotionally prepare the couple for the Collaborative meetings;
- helps families with children develop parenting plans and co-parenting strategies/skills to support the transition to two households.