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Collaborative Law - An Overview

Many people intrigued by the concept of mediation are unwilling or hesitant to proceed without an attorney, even with a neutral mediator present. Collaborative law offers a cooperative forum and yet retains the protections of individual representation. Contact an attorney experienced in collaborative law at our firm today to discuss your case.

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Collaborative Law - An Overview

Lawsuits can be time-consuming and expensive, and they can take an emotional toll on all of those involved. While the formalities of the traditional adversarial process may be necessary to protect the parties' interests in some cases, the parties can save themselves time, money and stress if they are willing to work together in the collaborative law process. If you believe your legal situation can best be resolved through collaborative law, contact The Law Offices of Jerome P. Ventura, P.A. in Pembroke Pines, FL, to discuss your matter. An attorney experienced in the collaborative method can review your case and help you determine the best way to seek resolution.

What is collaborative law?

Collaborative law was developed in Minneapolis in 1989 by Stuart Webb. As a family law attorney, Webb became discouraged by the effects of litigation on families and sought a new approach to deal with the matters more effectively. Collaborative law strives to take animosity and distrust out of the process. For the method to work, the parties must be willing to work with one another in a respectful, cooperative environment toward shared goals.

During the collaborative process, each party is represented by independent counsel. The attorneys and the parties sign an agreement or stipulation agreeing to work together and negotiate in good faith towards a resolution. This includes mutual disclosure of any information necessary to assess the parties' claims, including financial documents.

The parties then schedule a series of four-way meetings. During these meetings, the parties will voluntarily exchange documents and other information with one another. They also may request the use of certain experts and professionals, such as financial consultants, accountants, appraisers and child development specialists.

The parties must participate in the process and work together in good faith. They cannot threaten litigation or take action to move the matter to court. If this happens or the parties cannot come to an agreement and the matter must go to court, the attorneys must withdraw from representation and the parties must secure new counsel. Additionally, any experts or other professionals who provided assistance during the collaborative process may not be used in a subsequent court proceeding. Any information or documentation gathered during the collaborative process also may not be used in court, unless the parties made a prior agreement stating otherwise.

When is collaborative law appropriate?

While collaborative law has most often been used to resolve family law issues, the approach is gaining wider use in other areas, such as probate, business disputes and employment law matters. However, collaborative law is not the best method for every case. Some questions to ask before using a collaborative law approach include:

  • Do the parties have a desire or need for a continued relationship with one another?
  • Is there high emotional involvement between the parties that would best be addressed and resolved for the future?
  • Is prompt resolution desired?
  • Would the parties prefer not to have their dispute aired in public?
  • Do the legal matter and the parties' circumstances lend itself to a less formal process?
  • Are the parties interested in and able to be active participants in the process?
  • Do the parties want more creative and individualized solutions that take into account their personalities and ethical and spiritual values?

The most important consideration is whether the parties can work cooperatively together. If one party has more power over the other, or if there are allegations of abuse, or if there is simply too much anger between the parties, the traditional litigation process is a better option.

Advantages of collaborative law

Proponents of the collaborative process often cite the following reasons why collaborative processes are better than adversarial processes:

  • Clients have more control over their lives. Clients, rather than judges, shape the outcome of the case.
  • Greater potential for positive future relationships. Parties can create an environment for the future in which they continue to have a mutually respectful relationship.
  • Lower costs. Generally, in collaborative cases parties are able to avoid the costs of discovery, trial preparation and litigation.
  • Less stress. Collaboration, by definition, lessens the amount of stress felt by those involved in the process by removing the adversarial approach from the proceedings.
  • Focus on problem solving. In many cases utilizing the collaborative process, the parties enlist a team of problem solvers, whereas in the adversarial process, each side often hires experts for the sole purpose of discrediting the arguments and evidence of the opposing party.
  • Better outcomes. Conventional cases may settle on the courthouse steps under great pressure and after considerable legal fees and emotional hardship. From the outset of a collaborative case, however, parties are committed to settling and finding win-win solutions together.

Speak to a collaborative law attorney

If the parties are willing to work together to find an agreeable solution to their legal matters, the collaborative approach can save considerable economic and personal resources. If you are in the midst of a dispute involving a continuing relationship and want to avoid contentious litigation, an attorney trained and experienced in the collaborative law approach from The Law Offices of Jerome P. Ventura, P.A. in Pembroke Pines, FL, can help. Call The Law Offices of Jerome P. Ventura, P.A. today.

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