Collaborative practice is a specific process for resolving family law issues, usually child custody and parenting time, child support, and division of assets and debts. When parents and spouses agree to the collaborative process, they sign a contract, along with their lawyers. In this contract, they agree to refrain from going to court or hiring opposing experts and consultants. The parties and their lawyers agree to work together as a team to reach agreements.
They are sometimes helped in this process by jointly hiring professionals such as accountants, appraisers, psychologists, therapists, and financial advisors. The parties and their lawyers agree that information and documents will be shared without the need for formal actions such as sending subpoenas.
Usually, agreements are reached through the collaborative process. When they are not, both attorneys must withdraw, and each party retains new counsel. We have family law attorneys who do collaborative practice, as well as those ready to step in to work with clients when the collaborative process has not resulted in an agreement.
The terms “collaborative” and “cooperative” are typically used interchangeably. In the family law area, they have different meanings. “Collaborative” refers to this specific process. “Cooperative” refers to a spirit of cooperation and civility. Our collaborative practice attorneys always strive to be cooperative unless the needs of our clients require otherwise.