If you are trying to decide whether to try Collaborative Law, here are some things to think about.
What We Do
Focus on the interests of each party. In Collaborative, we spend time helping the parties identify and clearly state their goals, needs and interests. We use them to establish our targets for settling the case.
Use an organized gathering of information. The parties cooperate and share information. We focus on just the essential information instead of using a “shotgun” approach. In litigation, there are often requests for both sides to produce the same information and some information that really won't be helpful in resolving the case.
Incorporate unique and creative solutions. We try out new ideas and are unlimited by traditional or standard rules and approaches. We are not bound to follow the standard “guidelines” in the Family Code, although we may choose to use them.
Reach agreements while preserving relationships. That is especially beneficial when there are children involved. Using two well-trained attorneys and other neutral professionals makes this possible.
Improve the communication skills of the parties. There is an emphasis on learning to listen and communicate respectfully and effectively and the mental health professional helps the parties.
What We Don't Do
Use standard guidelines as the only answer. We can consider them, but we can be flexible and come up that solutions that fit.
Use “positional bargaining”. We don't stake out extreme positions and negotiate to reach a settlement in the middle. We focus on the actual needs of the parties.
Go for 50% or some other arbitrary share of everything. Again, we focus on the actual needs and interests of the parties.
Attack each other. The parties learn to communicate effectively so they can reach agreements. Attacking drives the parties farther apart and usually ends up costing everyone a lot more.
Engage in game-playing in discovery. We identify the information we need and then arrange for the person best able to furnish it to bring it to the neutral professional to organize it. Game-playing and deception also cost the parties more money.
When you are deciding whether to use Collaborative Law, do some research, think about it and talk it over with your lawyer. These points should help you decide if it would fit your circumstances. Good luck!