The client should have an initial legal consultation with an attorney, trained in Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice, which includes a comprehensive intake of the factual history from the client along with the client’s interests, goals and concerns. The attorney then provides information regarding the various models of dispute resolution. The client needs to understand how the various processes work, and the pros and cons as relates to their situation to make a determination, with the attorney’s assistance, whether Collaborative Divorce makes sense while considering the factual history and the clients own interests and goals.
Once both parties have retained collaboratively trained lawyers, the lawyers would then talk to review the case and discuss plans for a first meeting. The first meeting consists of the clients and their lawyers and possibly other professionals engaged on the Collaborative team. During the first meeting, the Collaborative Participation Agreement (which outlines in detail the parameters for the process) is reviewed and signed by the parties.
The next step is to determine whether there are pressing needs that are time sensitive (those issues may need to be addressed shortly after the Collaborative Participation Agreement is signed.)
The team then moves into identifying issues, gathering factual information (from the clients and the professionals), hearing from the clients as to their respective interests and goals, brainstorming options, and looking at options with the goal of maximizing the interests of the parties and their children (if applicable).
Legal advice is transparent so that the clients have the opportunity to hear what each lawyer has to say.
Once an agreement is reached, the details are worked through and the agreement is usually reduced to writing in contractual form and signed by the clients.
The process is likely to proceed over the course of several meetings. Those in attendance may vary depending on the needs of the clients and the meeting agenda.
If desired, the attorneys assist their clients in obtaining an uncontested no-fault divorce.
The Collaborative Process can be extremely worthwhile for parties where all involved are committed to assisting the clients reach a quality settlement. There is no distraction of litigation pending and the professionals use their skills and training in interest-based communications to address the needs of the clients in a positive manner.