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Collaborative Law

At Lawyer Legion we created a directory of collaborative law attorneys. Search for the attorney by state, city, or zip code.

The profiles of these attorneys focused on the collaborative divorce process have information on the attorney's membership and leadership in legal organizations related to family law, speaking engagements at quality CLE seminars, and participation in specialty certification programs.

In many family law cases the parties are so emotionally involved and antagonistic towards one another that they rely completely on legal representation and the judicial process. In these acrimonious divorces the decisions related to the dissolution of their marriage, residential or custody arrangements with children and equitable distribution of household good and belongings are determined by the court.

Divorces are not the subject of jury trials. Those familiar with the judicial process know that with litigation comes the risk of an adverse or unfavorable result. Often times there is no clear winner or loser but both parties come away from the contest feeling like they were shortchanged or that they both lost.

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Parties who find themselves married with children and an accumulation of assets have a choice other than a contested, bitter and expensive dissolution of marriage proceeding. Collaborative Divorce or Collaborative law is a process where the parties work together, though counsel, with other professionals such as accountants, financial planners and counselors to minimize the emotional and financial trauma which are part of the process of a contested divorce case.

If the parties can work together they can minimize the expense typically associated with a conventional divorce, the funds can be used elsewhere.

Divorce and Collaborative law is governed by the laws in each state. In fact, each state has common law and statutory provisions which govern the divorce process.

Collaborative law is a fairly recent development, coming into favor in the last 20 years. In 2009 The Uniform Law Commission adopted the Uniform Collaborative Law Act. The Act has been adopted into a few states and more are considering its adoption.

How does Collaborative Law Work?

If the parties feel that they have the ability and willingness to work together to seek a dissolution of marriage, they might sign a Participation Agreement. The Participation Agreement commits each party to follow the guidelines and rules regarding cooperation and confidentiality.

The Participation Agreement in a Collaborative Divorce case is also signed by each parties’ lawyers. Counsel agree not to participate in any subsequent contested matters between them should the collaborative law process should be unsuccessful for any reason. The goal of this process is to work together to come up with specific solutions by working together, not against each other.

What are the benefits of Collaborative Law?

Because children are hit hardest from even the best divorces, meeting the needs of the children is a primary concern during this process. Collaborative Divorce can involve the use of counselors or a psychologist that the parties share to maximize the quality of the result and minimize the impact and expense of dueling experts on the parties.

Depending on the age of the children, the counselor can help them to understand the parental dispute and come to understand that the children are not the cause of the dispute. In a typical contested divorce case, each party can hire expert witnesses who will have opposing ideas and expert opinions. In collaborative divorce cases the parties often hire the same expert and share the resource and the expense.

Collaborative law in a divorce case is a cooperative endeavor that can help the parties reach the most comprehensive and fair agreement possible with the least amount of trauma to the parties and children.

Is collaborative divorce better than a contested divorce?

Despite all the emotionally fueled legal turmoil which is part of a typical contested divorce, almost 90% of all contested divorces are settled at mediation or shortly thereafter with the help of a third party mediator.

Collaborative divorce by its nature attempts to avoid the acrimonious nature of a contested litigation battle and get the best settlement for the least amount of legal and professional fees before the parties are ordered to mediation.

Hiring a Lawyer for a Collaborative Divorce

Lawyers who focus in representing parties who are seeking a dissolution of marriage through the collaborative divorce process are called  matrimonial or divorce lawyers or family law attorneys. These attorneys often go through further training programs and attend continuing legal education (CLE) seminars focused on the collaborative divorce process. 

Board Certification Programs for Specialty Areas Related to Collaborative Divorce Law

Many states have specialty certification programs in Family and Matrimonial law which often covers aspects of the collaborative divorce. To qualify for this certification, applicants must dedicate a certain percentage of their practice to family and matrimonial law, have a certain number of trials in the field of family law and pass a written examination that covers this specialty area of the law. In many states, peer review and professional references are required.

The purpose of the state bar standards in establishing certifications in specialties such as family or matrimonial trial law is to educate the public that certain lawyers have demonstrated an advanced proficiency and have special knowledge in the field of the certification. This certification distinguishes the lawyer as having an advanced level of experience and expertise.

Finding the Right Collaborative Law Divorce Attorney

When choosing an attorney for a collaborative divorce, consider whether the attorney devotes a signification portion of his or her practice to that practice area. At Lawyer Legion we created our directory of family law attorneys to help the public find a qualified attorney in a variety of practice areas including collaborative divorce.

We rank attorneys according to the focus of their legal practice, their membership and leadership in organizations related to family law, and other objective criteria.