Collaborative divorce is an alternative approach to traditional combative divorce. At Tucker Griffin Barnes PC in Charlottesville, Virginia, our trained collaborative law attorney uses collaborative divorce to help our clients and their families move beyond the divorce and forward with their lives. Collaborative divorce is a team-based approach in which each party has a lawyer in the room and the option to call on trained financial professionals and counselors for additional support. We believe this approach preserves the opportunity to co-parent effectively and maintains healthy extended family relationships.
Collaborative law is a new way to complete a divorce. Each party has a separate and specially trained attorney. The lawyer’s job is to help the parties settle the case. If the attorneys do not succeed in helping the clients settle, the attorneys are out of the case. They never can represent either client against the other in a combative, traditional divorce.
In mediation, one neutral person helps both parties settle their case. Mediation can be challenging where the parties are not on a level playing field with each other. A mediator cannot give either party legal advice or help either side advocate a position. In collaborative law each person is represented by an attorney who supports their client to express what is important to him or her. Each client also receives timely legal advice so they can be fully informed when they reach a settlement. Even if one side lacks negotiating skill or financial understanding, or is emotionally angry, the collaborative lawyer assures that his or her client has the information they need to make good decisions. The lawyers also work with their own clients if they are being unreasonable. This assures the process stays positive and productive.
Both sides sign a binding collaborative law agreement to disclose all documents and information that relate to the issues early, fully and voluntarily. “Hide the ball” and stonewalling are not permitted. Both lawyers work to assure complete disclosure of needed information.
It isn’t for every client, but it is worth considering if some of the following are true for you:
Collaborative law sparks creative conflict resolution only when the lawyers and clients all are pulling together in the same direction to solve the same problems in the same way. When everyone knows that it is up to the four of them to think their way to a solution, does the special creativity of collaborative law get triggered. It is also important that both spouses can disclose information and propose solutions without fear that it will later be used against them if the process doesn’t result in an agreement.
Talk with the other party. See if there is a shared commitment to collaborative, win-win conflict resolution. Our firm can provide materials to share with the other party. We have a list of local experienced and trained collaborative lawyers for your spouse to consult.
Any experienced collaborative lawyer will tell you that there is a big difference between a settlement that is negotiated during the conventional litigation process, and a settlement that takes place in the collaborative process. Most conventional family law cases settle figuratively, if not literally, “on the courthouse steps.” By that time, a great deal of emotional damage has been caused and money spent. Moreover, the settlements that are reached in the shadow of trial, are generally shaped by what the lawyers believe the judge in the case is likely to do. This is very different from what happens in a typical collaborative law settlement. From the first day, the process is geared toward creative, respectful collective problem solving. It is less stressful on all involved.
We handle collaborative divorce cases on an hourly basis. We offer free initial consultations, and at the end of the consultation, we can evaluate our services and decide if you want to hire us.
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