Collaborative Practice

Collaborative Practice

What is Collaborative Practice?

Collaborative Practice (CP) is an important new process for the resolution of family law disputes. It emerged in the early 1990’s as a response by legal, financial and mental health professionals who had grave concerns about the impact of litigation and traditional adversary process on the family, and were also concerned that traditional mediation might not adequately address knowledge or power imbalances, or provide the full range of services a family might need during divorce.

In Collaborative Practice, the clients and their attorneys (and other professionals in the case, if any), contract to resolve the issues presented in a structured process without litigation. Both sets of clients and lawyers agree to:

  • Negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement without court intervention
  • Maintain open communication and informal information-sharing
  • Create shared solutions, acknowledging the highest priorities of the entire family

In addition, we agree that the lawyers (and other professionals, if any) will withdraw from the case if the matter proceeds to litigation. This is the most important element distinguishing Collaborative Practice from traditional representation because in traditional representation negotiations take place with the threat of litigation always looming in the background.

In Collaborative Practice both lawyers agree in advance to put their weapons down. Each client is of course free to hire a second lawyer to litigate the case if either client wants to terminate the collaborative process.

Collaborative practice creates powerful incentives to search for reasonable solutions without litigation. Each lawyer knows that he or she cannot profit from the use or threat of litigation and each client knows that litigation will impose the extra costs of hiring and educating new lawyers.

What does Collaborative Practice look like?

In a typical collaborative case you and your spouse or partner would work with a team of collaboratively trained professionals to develop your own solutions. Clients and professionals meet and work together respectfully and in good faith to make interim arrangements, plan for information-gathering, discuss concerns and assemble the information needed to reach an agreement. We assemble a team based on your needs. The team can include attorneys, communications coaches and child specialists (both roles are filled by mental health professionals), financial experts, and other professionals as needed. All of us have been trained in Collaborative Practice and agree to adhere to standards of practice that have been developed by national, statewide, and local collaborative organizations.

To learn more about the process

To learn more about the roles of team members

Why you might choose Collaborative Practice

Why you might choose collaborative practice instead of mediation. Collaborative practice, like mediation, is a good choice if you are interested in minimizing hostility and in jointly creating a durable settlement that reflects what is most important to you and your family. You might choose collaborative practice instead of mediation if you want the protection of having your own lawyer throughout the process but also want to eliminate the threat of litigation to the greatest possible extent ; if you feel intimidated or otherwise at a disadvantage negotiating directly with your spouse; or if you want to make sure that your needs and interests, whether they be emotional, child-related or financial, will be addressed by a team of professionals qualified and committed to do so.

Why you might not choose Collaborative Practice

Collaborative practice might not be good choice for you if you and spouse or partner cannot communicate respectfully or work constructively together; if you don’t trust  your spouse or partner to be forthcoming with information under his or her control;  or if you are concerned  that your spouse may be using the process in bad faith  in order to gain a strategic advantage or to create delay.