Saturday, May 5, 2007

Who is a Good Candidate for Collaborative Law?

As you may know, Collaborative Law is a process for resolving legal disputes without going to court, except to have an agreement approved by a court. Parties engage in a series of relatively short meetings where they identify their goals, assess the facts of the case, brainstorm to generate options to solve problems, evaluate the suitability of the various options and then create or select the best means to achieve the goals for each of the parties. Neutral experts are often brought in in Texas Collaborative Law cases, as needed, for specific functions. If the process breaks down, the parties must retain different attorneys to go to court with them.

Collaborative Law is a voluntary choice at the outset and the parties can opt out at any time, but it works about 93-95% of the time because, for most cases, it can result in more creative, customized and peaceful solutions than traditional litigation. While it may seem counterintuitive, many people are able to be open, honest and cooperative even in difficult cases that involve issues such as custody, extra-marital relationships, unique possession schedules and substantial and complex property issues.

People who have been choosing Collaborative Law have one or more of the following characteristics. They –

Value privacy. Collaborative meetings are private. There are no public hearings at the courthouse. Personal and financial information can be protected.

Want to make their own decisions. Instead of turning things over to a judge, the parties are able to create their own solutions and not be bound by tradition or arbitrary guidelines or standards.

Prefer to determine their own time schedule. In a litigated divorce, the parties often must follow an arbitrary time schedule imposed by a court and can be required to appear or take actions whenever the court wants them to, regardless of convenience or needs. In Collaborative cases, the parties decide how fast or slow they move and set meetings or take actions when they want to do so.

Often want or need to maintain a good relationship with a spouse, post-litigation. If the parties are parents, they usually see the value in cooperating and sharing the raising of their children.

Appreciate saving time and money by using jointly-hired neutral experts who work for both parties to create solutions. A neutral financial planner can often save money (and assets) for both parties by wise use of tax planning when assets are divided.

Are concerned primarily with the children’s best interests. They get neutral expert help to set up workable arrangements that suit the children and fit the parents’ situation.

Look to the future, rather than dwell on past conflicts. They focus on what good can come out of a difficult situation instead of dredging up all the past arguments and dirt on the other party. They may have had a bad experience in litigation, or may have seen it with family or friends. They realize that they can accomplish more and get better results by cooperating and acting as mature adults.

Collaborative Law will not work for everyone, but it is a great option for many. People who are mentally ill, violent or just very unrealistic are not appropriate for Collaborative Law. Likewise, people with fixed ideas, unwilling to consider other options, cannot function in a Collaborative case. For many others, such as ones described above, Collaborative Law encourages hope for the future and life with less conflict.