A previous post on this blog talked about how a person who wants to participate in the collaborative law approach to resolve a family law issue can still have his or her own attorney and is in fact encouraged to do so. Even though the approach in collaborative law cases is different-going to court is, during the process, is off the table– an attorney still plays an important role and has an obligation to make sure his or her client understands the process and does not get taken advantage of.
Our law office has participated in many collaborative law cases and, in doing so, has helped our clients negotiate through family law disputes without having to resort to time consuming expensive and stressful litigation that can prove very hard on a family. We are able to negotiate and work with the other side during negotiations, but not to the point of selling out our client to a bad deal. Our goal is always to find a solution that works best for everyone.
On a practical level, this often means we have to be able to identify and work with a wide variety of professionals who may or may not be lawyers. For example, in child custody matters, it may be important to the collaborative process to consult with a child psychologist, a parenting coordinator or other expert who can help parents agree on a good child custody and parenting time arrangement. In other situations, an accounting or other financial professional may be an important consultant.
Finally, the collaborative law process usually ends with the signing of a legal document that may be detailed and have lots of technical language with which someone may not have a lot of familiarity. We will work to make sure such agreements are drafted correctly so that a good negotiation does not immediately get derailed by a dispute over the written agreement.