Role of the Lawyer

Collaborative Family Law lawyers are specially trained in the collaborative process.  They rely on their training, mediation and negotiation skills in jointly guiding a process where the spouses commit to working together, without going to court, to resolve their family law problems.   Each spouse’s lawyer advises and advocates for their own client, but is also committed to working with the collaborative team to help the spouses create solutions that are in the best interests of the family as a whole.   Collaborative lawyers know from experience that solving problems arising on separation through the collaborative process is more efficient in time and cost and is more rewarding to the spouses than resolution through the courts.

Within the collaborative process the lawyers:

  1. Explain the process to the spouses, and explain, sign and abide by the Participation Agreement ;
  2. Provide legal advice to their individual clients;
  3. Help the spouses retain coaches where coaches have not already been retained;
  4. Participate in four way meetings with the other collaborative lawyer and spouses and meet individually or in groups with other team members as necessary;
  5. Guide the financial and other disclosure that is necessary to help the spouses find solutions;
  6. Help the spouses identify the need for third party specialists such as financial advisors and child specialists, and assist them in retaining those specialists;
  7. Serve as guides for the process,  ensuring that all participants adhere to the terms of the Agreement and focus on problem solving;
  8. craft the documents that are needed to make the solutions happen.  When the spouses reach agreement, the lawyers  put together the separation agreements, property transfers, and financing documents that are required to confirm and implement those arrangements.

In 4 way meetings and negotiations, collaborative lawyers:

  1. use interest-based problem solving techniques as the core of their negotiations.
  2. work hard to prevent negotiations from becoming entrenched and conflicted.  Unlike in court, collaborative lawyers advocate for their client’s interests, not for fixed positions.
  3. do not dictate solutions. The lawyers work with the spouses to develop solutions, to stimulate constructive discussion, and to problem solve.