Although the attorneys at Richardson Bloom & Lines are experienced and adept trial attorneys, we also support all methods of alternative dispute resolution methods to avoid having to put the client and the client’s family through the stress, expense, and uncertainty of a court hearing. Despite our attorneys’ competency in the courtroom, we all recognize that allowing our clients to turn over the most important decisions of their lives to a perfect stranger (the judge) and discuss the most intimate details of their lives in public (the courtroom), is rarely a good idea.
One often successful method of respectful dispute resolution is the Collaborative Process. Unfortunately, it is also the least understood. To help you better understand the Collaborative Process, we have put together the top five reasons to hire a Collaborative (one who has been specially trained) attorney.
- First, and most importantly, as the client, you create your own agreement with your former significant other. While it may not be possible to get everything you want, it is certainly possible to get everything you need. If decisions are left to the court to make, the court does not have the time to do much besides apply cookie cutter outcomes that may not have much applicability to your family’s situation.
- Second, the Collaborative Process is often less expensive than traditional litigation. We have heard attorneys say that they do not discuss the Collaborative Process with their clients because it is too expensive. Those same attorneys will then hire a team of experts to help their client prepare for litigation. For example, in traditional litigation, forensic accountants are retained by both parties, dueling appraisals of properties and businesses are obtained and paid for, trust experts are retained to determine the impact of the divorce on the irrevocable trust created during the marriage, and we haven’t even mentioned the therapists for all of the family members. Those professionals are expensive but often necessary if you want to litigate. But in the Collaborative Process you have two collaboratively trained attorneys, a financial neutral, and depending on your family’s circumstances and your specific needs and wants, one or two divorce coaches, a child specialist, and the parties then agree to use one appraiser to obtain the necessary fair market values. The entire team is helping both parties and it costs less. As celebrity attorney Laura Wasser famously said, “the more the (former) couple argues, the more money the attorneys make.” (Did you know that Nora, the attorney portrayed by Oscar award winner Laura Dern in Marriage Story, is thought to be based on Laura Wasser).
- Third, if you value privacy, the Collaborative Process is the way to go. The meetings are private, not in an open courtroom. Nothing is filed with the court (and such filings are public records) until all issues have been resolved and a settlement agreement has been signed by both parties. Further, you maintain better control of your time because you and your former significant other, not the court, control when the meetings occur. The Collaborative Process can move as fast or as slow as the parties agree, without arbitrary deadlines imposed by the court. Do not let the term “process” scare you away from speaking to a collaboratively trained attorney. The process is flexible and will be designed around your unique circumstances. The process is designed to focus on problem-solving, not to build a case for court.
- Fourth, in the Collaborative Process, there is no time consuming, expensive, discovery where possibly thousands of documents covering some vast period of years of the marriage, must be found, organized, collated, and provided to the other side. Hours and hours of your time and then your attorney’s time to respond to the dreaded and dreadful discovery gets very expensive. Instead, the financial neutral decides what documents are truly needed to facilitate the problem-solving discussions, and both parties will help to gather those documents.
- If you have children, The Collaborative Process will allow you and your former significant other to attend all of the children’s events and sit next to each other, because you behaved with dignity throughout the process and focused on mutual goals and the well being of your children, not on fighting.
If you are considering a divorce, contact one of our collaboratively trained attorneys. You will be glad you did.