The Collaborative Practice, an important dispute resolution process, is consistent with the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers’ mission statement and Bounds of Advocacy.
Divorce or dissolutions of relationships and issues arising with these family changes, are sensitive, personal matters. Among the variety of approaches available to resolve these matters involving financial and non-financial issues, whether before or after dissolution of the relationship, is the Collaborative Process.
The Collaborative Process, including Collaborative Law and interdisciplinary Collaborative Divorce, is a relatively new way for persons to resolve disputes respectfully — without going to court — working with trained professionals who understand the complexity of the issues in all areas of the couple’s or parents’ lives.
If the following values are important to a person engaged in a family law dispute, Collaborative Practice may be a workable option:
- I want us both to maintain a tone of respect, even when we disagree.
- I want us to give priority to the needs of our children.
- My needs and those of my spouse or former spouse, partner or former partner, should have equal consideration, and I will listen objectively.
- I believe that working creatively and cooperatively helps in resolving issues.
- It is important to reach beyond today’s frustration and pain to plan for the future.
- I can and will behave ethically toward my spouse or former spouse, partner or former partner.
- I choose to maintain control of our disagreement and not relegate it to the courts.
The heart of Collaborative Practice is to offer to both spouses or former spouses, partners or former partners, or parents, the support, protection and guidance of their own lawyers without going to court. Additionally, the Collaborative Process provides the couple with the benefits of working with child and financial specialists, divorce coaches and other professionals, all working together on the team. This team approach intertwines the strengths of the disciplines essential to meeting the emotional and financial needs of the family in that divorce, custodial disagreements, and post-divorce matters are much more than just legal matters; there are communications, emotional and relationship consequences for the parties, as well as impacts on the educational, psychological and familial development of the children of the spouses or former spouses, partners or former partners.
In Collaborative Practice, core elements form the contractual commitments, which include negotiation of a mutually acceptable settlement without having courts decide issues; maintaining open communication and information sharing; and creating shared solutions acknowledging the highest priorities of all parties.