The Collaborative Process is an out-of-court conflict resolution process in which the participants focus their efforts on reaching a mutually acceptable resolution. It is a team-based approach based 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.
Central tenets of the Collaborative Process include:
The concept of Collaborative Law was first conceived in 1989 by Stu Webb, a family law attorney in Minneapolis, who realized that court trials were inflicting greater injury to families than the underlying divorce itself. Since 1989, the practice of Collaborative Law has developed and grown and is now successfully practiced in 24 countries around the world. It is used not only in family law but in business, commercial, probate and employment law as well.
In the Collaborative Process, the parties 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 parties and their family as a whole. Focusing on settlement, the Collaborative Process offers a more healthy and effective forum for the resolution of a couple’s divorce issues. 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.
In order to accomplish these goals, professionals are available to work together as a team. A Collaborative Team can be any combination of professionals that the parties choose to work with to resolve their issues. The attorneys can help the clients decide which professionals are best suited to their needs. The professionals typically come from three disciplines: legal, mental health and financial.
A Collaborative attorney is an attorney with specialized training in the Collaborative Process who, when working on a Collaborative case, operates from a very different paradigm than a litigating attorney. Specifically, the attorneys join the clients in pledging not to go to court and not to threaten to go to court in order to gain advantage in the settlement process. If the client does nonetheless file in court, the attorney must withdraw, and the client must retain new litigation counsel.
Each attorney will:
A coach is a licensed mental health professional with specialized training in the Collaborative Process. A coach’s role is different from that of a therapist in that the coach focuses on helping the parties achieve the immediate goal of reaching an agreement rather than determining the core causes of behavior.
A coach will:
A child specialist is a licensed mental health professional with experience in child development, family dynamics, and separation and divorce, who has received specialized training in the Collaborative Process. The child specialist functions as an advocate and serves as the voice of the child (or children).
The child specialist will:
A financial specialist is a financial planner or accountant who has received specialized training in the Collaborative Process. The financial specialist assists clients in developing viable financial options as they make the transition to two households.
The financial specialist will:
During the Collaborative process, the parties may choose to engage other neutral professionals, such as appraisers and valuation experts, to assist with specific tasks that require their unique expertise.