The American Bar Association explains Collaborative Law as follows:
Collaborative law is a type of alternative dispute resolution process in which the parties and their lawyers commit to work cooperatively to reach a settlement. It had its roots in, and shares many attributes of, the mediation process. Participants focus on the interests of both clients, gather sufficient information to insure that decisions are made with full knowledge, develop a full range of options, and then choose options that best meet the needs of the parties. The parties structure a mutually acceptable written resolution of all issues without court involvement. The product of the process is then submitted to the court as a final decree. The structure creates a problem-solving atmosphere with a focus on interest-based negotiation and client empowerment.
[Source: American Bar Association Formal Ethics Opinion 07-447.]
Each party is represented by specially trained lawyers who have been certified in the collaborative law process. The goal is settlement of all issues without court involvement. Though each party is separately represented, a team approach is taken to identify issues and explore the full range of possible resolutions. The process requires commitment of all participants to be transparent and respectful. While transitioning from married to separated to single is a life changing event fraught with high emotions, the potential harm both financially and emotionally is greatly mitigated through the collaborative law process.
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