Collaborative Practice for Marital and Family Matters:
What is Collaborative Family Law?
Collaborative Family Law is a non-adversarial process focused on getting parties from dispute to
resolution efficiently, and with as little financial and emotional damage as possible, while
securing an agreement that addresses their true interests.
Every other issue not covered above!
Three Defining Principles of Collaborative Law:
Clients and attorneys agree in advance that they will not take any contested issue to court.
The process is "transparent." Much of the work is done in four-way meetings with both
clients and both lawyers present. Everyone agrees to informal exchanges of all relevant
Agreements are made through a process of "interest-based negotiation," where
participants are encouraged to find creative solutions that satisfy everyone.
Top Ten Reasons
Why YOU should choose Collaborative Family Law:
10. There has to be a better way!
Compare Collaborative Family Law with Litigation
Litigation can be demoralizing, dehumanizing and destructive to families.
Litigation is a "Blame Game."
Collaborative Law changes the focus from WHO is at fault, to HOW to SOLVE the
9. It would make Atticus Finch proud.
Our Experience Has Shown...
Most divorcing couples are kind, decent and intelligent folks who want to maintain their
self-respect and dignity.
These are good people at the worst time in their lives. Often, they are not proud of their
They would like to feel that they have treated their spouse fairly, done what was best for
their children, and amicably resolved their differences.
8. Keep the dirty laundry in the bag!
Some things to like about Collaborative Law
Sensitive family issues remain confidential.
No public court appearances are required.
No personal, psychological or financial records go into your court file.
7. You get to tell the judge to leave you alone, and he/she has to!
We have found...
Clients want to control their own destiny, NOT have a third party decide what is best for
Typically, Collaborative Law clients are people who are used to controlling their lives
and may not like having to do what others tell them to do, especially if it doesn't make
sense to them.
The Clients, not the court or the lawyers, control the process and outcome.
6. You're too busy to play Litigation Jeopardy.
They want to be on their schedule, not a judge's schedule.
They want to set their own deadlines for meeting and gathering information.
They want the information they gather to be customized to their case, not generic.
They want to take the time they need to get through their divorce in their own way
without court-imposed deadlines.
Our experience shows...
The average collaborative divorce is completed in 17 WEEKS; the average litigated
divorce takes 17 MONTHS.
5. The TRUTH is CHEAPER than Fiction!
The truth is...
Paying two "hired gun" experts to come up with diametrically opposed opinions so that
the court can split the difference is wasteful for the clients.
Hiring neutral experts helps the parties arrive at an agreement using objective standards.
We have found the following neutral experts can be helpful:
Mental health professionals
CPAs and financial planners
Corporate, tax, and estate-planning attorneys
Business and real estate appraisers
4. A scorched earth is no place to live.
Being cross-examined by an attorney almost always assures that the parties will be
enemies with each other and with the lawyers.
Dealing with their spouse and his or her lawyer in an informal, respectful setting.
The ability to talk in a group situation without fear that their words will come back to
Collaborative Family Law compared to Mediation
During caucus-style mediation, clients feel isolated and left out of the process.
Mediation often makes clients feel pressured to settle in someone else's timeframe.
Collaborative Law allows clients to vent if they need to in a safe environment, and
participate fully in the process.
3. One size does NOT fit all!
The Florida Statutes governing family matters set "one size fits nobody" rules for
parental decision-making, visitation and child support that don't consider individual
Judges are strictly required to follow rules in dividing property that often don't make
sense for individual clients.
Collaborative Law encourages clients to be creative in meeting the needs of individuals
based on their unique circumstances.
The Collaborative Law process provides clients with experience they can use in future
We have learned...
Interest-based discussions work better than positional bargaining.
Clients often find that they share more interests than they had realized.
Interest-based negotiation frees clients to work toward resolution that addresses
everyone's needs and often results in acts of generosity.
2. There's no reason for formal discovery when everyone agrees to act in good faith.
We find that most clients...
Know what they have and resent having to prove what they already know through
Can work together to gather the necessary information to resolve their case.
Want to spend their money on themselves and their children rather than on lawyers, so
they're willing to do homework.
All Collaborative Law clients and lawyers commit to respond truthfully to inquiries, to provide
relevant information to their spouse, and to correct mistakes made by either side.
1. Money really doesn't grow on trees!
We have found that Clients...
Would rather pay their lawyers for working than for waiting at the courthouse.
See how the lawyer earns the fee because they actively participate in the Collaborative
Like the fact that the process is focused on future problem-solving rather than continuing
Collaborative Law Advantages
"Adds value" to the client, so they feel they are getting their money's worth when they
pay for legal services.
Collaborative Law cases cost significantly less than litigated cases.
Why we are Collaborative Professionals?
Collaborative Law clients are happy clients. We want to make a positive difference in
We want to change the face of divorce in this world to one where everyone wins - the
clients, the professionals, the children, and society.
Why choose Collaborative Law?
In 1,000 pounds of law, there is not an ounce of love.
Divorce is a problem to be solved, not a battle to be fought.
The Information above was originally prepared by the Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota
and the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas, Inc. We are grateful to Attorney Linda K. Wray of
Edina, Minnesota for sharing her Collaborative Law presentation with him.