"Collaborative Law offers a team-based non-adversarial approach for a dissolution or legal separation case. Together, the parties and their team of professionals work together to focus on a new beginning for the future while preserving dignity and respect for the parties and any children." Bryan Ginter, Esq.
Do you want a respectful divorce? A friendly cooperative divorce? Collaborative Law, also called Collaborative Practice, is a method of resolving a divorce or any other family law matter out of court. Each party has his/her own attorney and, depending on the parties' wishes, other professionals may be involved. Professionals seen in Collaborative Law include:
Attorneys: Unlike litigation and mediation, each party must have his/her own attorney. The Family Law attorney informs the client of the law to ensure that the client is making informed decisions.
Communication Specialists: A Communication Specialist, who is also sometimes referred to as a "divorce coach," is a mental health professional to help the parties speak productively to each other, which facilitates settlement and negotiations. A Communication Specialist does not provide counseling or "therapy." Both parties may use a joint Communication Specialist, or each party may have his/her own Communication Specialist.
Child Specialist: If there are any minor children involved, a neutral Child Specialist may be included in the process. The purpose of the Child Specialist is to act as a voice of the child(ren), relaying this information to the group so that the child(ren)'s feelings and desired can be considered as the parties are reaching agreements.
Financial Specialist: Oftentimes one party does not understand finances as well as the other, which could be due to one party primarily managing finances during the marriage. Or, there could be complex financial issues, such as a large amount of assets or multiple sources of income and expenses. In these cases, a neutral Financial Specialist can make order out of the financial chaos and relay financial information to the parties and the rest of the team in layman's terms. Additionaly a financial specialist can offer buy-out scenarios and cash flow analysis.
A Little About Collaborative Law Groups
Currently, there is no regulation of Collaborative Law...there are no "rules." However, there are various groups that include Collaborative Law professionals, including attorneys, mental health professionals, etc. These groups are largely self-regulated and have their own rules that members must follow. If you are interested in Collaborative Law for your divorce or any other matter, you should ask your prospective attorney whether he or she belongs to any particular Collaborative Law group, and you should ask to see the rules, protocols and/or guidelines of the group before hiring that attorney. For example, some groups require that the parties visit with a Communication Specialist at least once. Also, some groups have a restriction where an attorney member may not enter into a Collaborative Law case with another attorney that is not also a member of the same group.
At Ginter Family Law, it is our opinion that these rules are a "one glove fits all" process where cases are expected to conform to those guidelines. Instead, we believe that the process should be flexible and should be customized to each individual case. Since we purposefully are not members of a group for this purpose, you can be assured that the process we cater to your specific needs. You will not be forced to include other professionals if you and the other party do not wish to do so, as one example.