Like marriage, the Collaborative Process takes two; two spouses and two lawyers. Inherent in any of the different processes available to end a marriage, whether it be litigation, mediation or Collaborative Practice, there are competing interests surrounding division of marital property and the allocation of income and expenses. One lawyer cannot represent two parties, and one mediator does not represent either party. So, it takes two lawyers trained in the Collaborative Process to provide competent representation for each spouse in the process designed to end a marriage by way of uncontested Dissolution. Just because you have two lawyers, however, representing two people with competing interests, it does not mean you must endure the long list of horribles most people think of when they think of lawyers and divorce.
First, remember you’re thinking Dissolution, not Divorce. You negotiate your agreements before you get anywhere near a courthouse. You voluntarily choose to control not only your decisions, but how you will make your decisions. Your lawyers take instruction from you about your choices and about your family. The lawyers will provide you with information which will empower your choices and help you make up your own mind, all the while being at your side for support and guidance.
In the beginning, when you are choosing a process like Collaborative (and if you are reading this you are well on your way to doing so) you may be wondering how will my spouse get the same information or find a competent Collaborative attorney?
So long as we only discuss process options I can discuss this choice with both spouses, before “representation” begins. We will not talk about your income, your assets or your children; we will only talk about your options for ending the marriage: divorce vs. dissolution; mediation vs. Collaboration; litigation vs. alternative dispute resolution.
I can also direct you to a mental health professional trained in the Collaborative Process. These neutral professionals are skilled in the communication arts and managing strong emotions and they can direct each spouse to experienced legal Collaborative professionals.
Finally, it is possible for my office to recommend other outstanding lawyers who take Collaborative Practice very seriously and who will provide competent Collaborative representation which will help ensure a satisfactory resolution for both spouses.