When marriages end many important issues must be addressed The fair division of assets, adequate spousal and child support, custody and visitation, and other rights of the parties must be resolved at a time when they find themselves in the most emotionally challenging circumstances of their lives. Radically different views of what is fair, or adequate or reasonable have historically become the object of lengthy, unpredictable, expensive, and emotionally draining court proceedings.
Collaborative law is a new and more efficient process utilized by many to resolve all issues when the marriage ends. It is an opportunity for those who want to work toward their own solutions in a private setting. In it the parties, each working with his or her own attorney, financial professionals and others, create shared solutions which in an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation to meet the other’s needs. The process may be ended by either party at any time but those who assisted them may not participate in any court proceedings follows it.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The collaborative law process is authorized by and described at Family Law Code Section 2019 Its subpart (b) defines it as “the process in which the parties and any professionals engaged by the parties to assist them agree in writing to use their best efforts and to make a good faith attempt to resolve disputes related to family law matters as referenced in subdivision (a) on an agreed basis without resorting to judicial intervention.”
Meetings take place in person or electronically between the parties, their attorneys, or other involved professionals separately or collectively. Their object is to collect all the information needed to resolve the issues between the parties in a manner acceptable to them. The process may require the production of tax, business, and other records necessary to resolve any disputed issues.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES?
Two important ones have already been mentioned You are engaged in a private rather than a public process, court proceedings, and consequently set and act at your own pace. Court proceedings, whose cost rises exponentially with the number of contested issues, are far more expensive than the collaborative approach. Costs are also reduced by a shared expert who examines financial issues and provides unbiased opinions Perhaps most important of all, you are supported by a team whose goal is finding resolution rather than feeding confrontation.
AM I A GOOD CANDIDATE?
This depends on several factors. Can you and your spouse put aside the feelings that prevent rational and cost-effective choices? Are you willing to make sacrifices on some issues if it leads to an overall positive result? Can you let other members of your team act for you if a matter is too sensitive for your personal involvement?
Above all, are you and your spouse capable of taking a step back and making well-calculated rather than emotional decisions?