Collaborative Family Law is an extra-judicial process designed to assist husbands and wives arrive at the necessary agreements needed to end their marital relationship. The process begins once the couple and their two attorneys contractually bind themselves to proceed in the manner proscribed in their Collaborative Participation Agreement or Collaboration Contract. A Collaborative Participation Agreement requires the couple to confirm, in writing, that their respective attorneys are hired only for the limited purpose of the collaborative negotiation and that neither will ever participate in any litigation concerning the couples’ marital issues. In addition to the disqualification of their legal counsel in the event of future court action, each party to the collaboration promises to make a full and complete disclosure of all material information concerning their income, property and child related issues.
I personally believe that Collaborative Family Law offers hope for a better tomorrow to families transitioning out of an unfulfilling or dysfunctional marital relationship as opposed to a win-lose confrontation. The process is designed to end a couple’s relationship in the very same manner it began, by each saying “Yes”. At a time when couples are feeling a loss of control and fear of the unknown, the Collaborative Process can provide the time and the means to restore order, open lines of communication and create awareness needed for appropriate problem solving.
The reason I capitalize Collaborative Law, Collaborative Participation Agreement and Collaborative Process, is because the terms are descriptions off a unique and particularized process, proper nouns all, defined by particular and essential contractual terms which distinguish Collaborative Law, from any other “way” or “process” which might happen to involve random acts of collaboration. I find use of the proper nouns helps clients and less experienced Collaborative lawyers that what they are embarking upon, when they sign a Participation Agreement, will be a uniquely different experience.