1. What is the collaborative process?

It is one in which the parties, despite whatever strong feeling they may have, work together with the assistance of others to work in good faith to reach agreement on as many issues as possible out of court. You work in a private setting at your own pace.  Issues resolved through negotiation can limit or even illuminate the need for any court proceedings and the toll they take.

2.  What are the issues that must be addressed?

They include division of property acquired during the marriage, the amount of spousal and child support to be paid, and custody and visitation rights if there are children and, through a recent change in the law, pets.

3.  What are the advantages of the collaborative process?

Divorce is never easy but the collaborative process is much less stressful, far less time consuming, and much less expensive than court proceedings.

4.  What happens if an issue or issues cannot be resolved?

Each party’s attorney will take whatever steps he or she deems necessary to obtain the court’s approval of their client’s demands.  These steps include discovery, hiring experts, filing motions, attending hearings, and ultimately going to trial.  The chart at the link below underscores how much faster a divorce is obtained, and how much money that saves, by the collaborative process.

5.  Am I a good candidate for the collaborative process?

The question really should be are “we” good candidates.  Both spouses must be willing to put aside their personal feelings and work toward practical and realistic solutions.  A mediator, or your attorneys and other professionals can assist in this process, but YOU are responsible for making it work...

6.  What is the difference between resolving issues through a single mediator as opposed to the collaborative process where each party has an attorney?

Mediation is less expensive because you pay the fees of one professional rather than two. A mediator helps the parties reach agreement but does not advocate or represent either of them. He or she cannot give legal advice but can tell you about the resources available to you. 
Attorneys too work towards settlement while keeping their clients advised of their rights under the law as the process proceeds.

7.  What happens after the collaborative process ends?

A draft agreement is prepared, and each party has the right to have it reviewed by his or her attorney.  The final agreement is submitted to the court and only those marital issues unresolved can be litigated.

8. What does the Los Angeles Superior Court think about the collaborative process?

It uses it at all stages of the case.  All parties and their attorneys must appear at a Family Centered Resolution Conference to attempt to resolve issues in the case.  If there are custody and/or visitation issues, the parties must participate in the court’s mediation program.  Shortly before trial, the parties must attend a mandatory settlement conference to settle as many issues as possible.

9. The Pandemic has made day-to-day life far more difficult and complicated.  Is face to face contact and all the practical and emotional difficulties that may entail, necessary?

No, Zoom can be used by the parties during their negotiations and the court has a similar system in place that by which the parties can appear electronically.