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Collaborative Practice FAQs

What happens if settlement cannot be reached?

In the event the parties are unable to arrive at a settlement through a collaborative approach, the lawyers withdraw from the case and the parties are free to retain trial lawyers to pursue their matter in court. The result is that the parties will have had the best representation for each phase of their proceeding and materials accumulated during the collaborative stage will be transmitted to the trial lawyer so that there is minimal loss of continuity.

Why should we consider retaining collaborative lawyers?

  • This process is generally less costly and time-consuming than litigation.
  • You are each supported by your lawyers and yet you work cooperatively with your spouse and their lawyer in resolving your issues.
  • You retain control of the process. The process does not control you. The process is much less anxiety producing than court proceedings or the threat of such proceedings.
  • Everyone can focus on settlement, without the imminent threat of “going to court.”
  • The possibility exists that the participants can create a climate that facilitates “win-win” settlements.
  • The process is much less time consuming than the traditional litigation model. The case can be finalized within a short time after an agreement is reached—rather than getting bogged down waiting for court dates.
  • Your case may be resolved with dignity, which may be of great benefit to the entire family.
  • The parties and their lawyers work together as partners in the process, with the parties participating in a fully informed manner.

What’s the difference between Collaborative Practice and Mediation?

In mediation, an impartial third party (the mediator) assists the negotiations of both parties and tries to help settle your case. However, the mediator cannot give either of you legal advice or be an advocate for either side. If there are lawyers for each of you, they may or may not be present at the mediation sessions, but if they are not present, then you can consult them between mediation sessions. When there’s an agreement, the mediator prepares a draft of the settlement terms for review and editing by both you and your lawyers.

Collaborative Practice allows you both to have lawyers present during the negotiation process to keep settlement as the top priority. The lawyers, who have training similar to mediators, work with their clients and one another to assure a balanced process that’s positive and productive. When there is agreement, a document is drafted by the lawyers, and reviewed and edited by you both until everyone is satisfied.

Both Collaborative Practice and mediation rely on voluntary, free exchange of information and commitment to resolutions respecting everyone’s shared goals. If mediation doesn’t result in a settlement, you may choose to use your counsel in litigation, if this is what you and your lawyer have agreed. In Collaborative Practice, the lawyers and parties sign an agreement aligning everyone’s interests in resolution. It specifically states that the Collaborative attorneys and other professional team members are disqualified from participating in litigation if the Collaborative process ends without reaching an agreement. Your choice of mediation or Collaborative Practice should be made with professional advice.