Collaborative Family Law

What is Collaborative Family Law?

Collaborative Family Law avoids the expense and emotional toll of an adversarial court process. Each spouse retains a Collaborative trained attorney whose role is to support and facilitate negotiation between the parties. The Collaborative attorneys sign a binding agreement not to go to court. Rather than a combative, painful, and costly litigation, agreement is reached through mutual problem solving. Benefits include:

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  • Emotional damage to the family is minimized
  • Complex cases are resolved more efficiently
  • Costs are significantly less than litigation

How does Collaborative Family Law differ from the traditional court process?

In divorce cases, the court process is by nature adversarial. Difficult negotiations can escalate and the resulting environment may become toxic. The result is extended litigation that is costly both personally and economically. In contrast, the Collaborative process eliminates the economic and emotional consequences of protracted litigation. It seeks to preserve long-term interests and important relationships, and protects the privacy, dignity, and self-esteem of participants. It allows parties to customize a settlement beyond the limited range of options a court may impose. Because terms are achieved mutually, there is less damage to the relationship of the spouses and increased likelihood of a workable ongoing relationship for the children. The Collaborative process provides a safe forum in which to address issues that may intensity emotions, such as family inheritance, extramarital affairs, a child with special needs, or a change in a spouse’s sexual orientation.

How does Collaborative Family Law differ from mediation?

A mediator is a neutral who helps guide parties to an agreement but does not impose a solution. The parties may consult attorneys outside of the mediation meetings. In the Collaborative process, each party is represented by an attorney. Both attorneys commit to non-adversarial conduct.

Is Collaborative Family Law only for “easy” cases?

In a word, no. The Collaborative process is a viable option for individuals who are willing to work together toward an equitable solution for both parties. It can be used in financially complex and emotionally difficult cases to address asset valuation and division, alimony, child support, college costs, tax implications, health and life insurance, parenting plans, and business interests. Collaborative Family Law is appropriate for a wide range of clients, ranging from young to elderly, middle class to wealthy, and business owners to salaried employees. The spouses may be same sex or opposite sex, gender-conforming or transgender.

Are other professionals involved in Collaborative Family Law?

A neutral communication coach is an integral player in Collaborative Practice. The coach, jointly engaged by both spouses, is trained to work with the parties to reduce emotional intensity and misunderstandings. This neutrality assures agreements are reached more efficiently, resulting in reduced attorney hours and ultimately, a more peaceful transition to a new life.

Other experts trained in the Collaborative process may be retained jointly by the parties to assist in matters such as business appraisals and tax considerations. Doris has worked successfully with many Collaborative practitioners who provide specialized assistance, including mental health professionals, financial specialists, and valuation experts. These professionals provide support and guidance as problem solvers, not adversaries.


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“How grateful I am that you were referred to me as an attorney practicing Collaborative Law. You were a strong and sometimes feisty advocate. You treated me with compassion and respect, and shared your wisdom and humor. The result of this process has been a divorce that leaves me and my ex-husband able to collaborate and even remain friendly. This has been my fondest fantasy, but I was very doubtful that it would happen, and I give you all the credit.”

A client who obtained a divorce in the Collaborative Process


videoFollow the story of an
actual couple:
Collaborative Divorce:
A Safe Place.