What is collaborative law and can it work for you?

Collaborative law has been around for many years, but it has become increasingly popular for use in situations like custody disputes and divorce settlements. In contrast to the traditional divorce process involving trials, evidence, witnesses and a final ruling from a family law judge, the collaborative approach is an out-of-court process.

Collaborative law is often touted as a preferred approach for family law cases involving children. This is because it is usually less stressful than the parties being pitted against each other at trial. Less stress for the parents usually results in a better co-parenting relationship, which then translates to a better atmosphere for the children.

Instead of focusing on "winning," the two parties work together to make decisions and come up with a settlement agreement that worked for both sides. Both the participants and their legal teams must be focused on a positive, constructive approach to the settlement process. As long as this happens, the collaborative approach can be used to work through just about any family law issue, from child custody and visitation to spousal support and property division.

If either party comes in with an adversarial or us-versus-them mentality, it may be near impossible to come to a resolution with collaborative law. For this reason, it's very important that your attorney be experienced in dealing with these types of cases if the collaborative process is something you and your soon-to-be ex are interested in. You will need to talk with your attorney to be sure that you understand what everyone's role is in the process, what the end goal is, and what your options are if the collaborative approach doesn't work out.

Source: FindLaw, "Collaborative Divorce: Overview," accessed May 20, 2016