© 2009 Collaborative Law, Inc.
by Arlene C. Richman, Esq.
I. THE COLLABORATIVE LAW PROCESS
Collaborative Law is a cooperative, confidential voluntary conflict resolution vehicle for parties going through a separation, dissolution or other family law matter.
The participants, which include both the attorneys and the parties, acknowledge that the essence of "Collaborative Law" is the shared belief that it is in the best interest of parties and their families in family law matters to commit themselves to avoiding adversarial proceedings, particularly litigation, and instead to work together to create shared solutions to the issues presented by the parties.
The goal of Collaborative Law is to minimize, if not eliminate, the negative economic, social and emotional consequences of litigation to families.
Choosing Collaborative Law requires a commitment to resolving differences justly and equitably.
II. NO COURT OR OTHER INTERVENTION
Collaborative Law requires a commitment to settling the issues involved without court intervention.
Participants must agree to give full, honest and open disclosure of all information, whether requested or not. Participants must agree to engage in informal discussions and conferences to settle all issues instead of going to court.
There is no guarantee that the process will be successful in resolving a dispute.
The Collaborative process cannot eliminate concerns about the disharmony, distrust and irreconcilable differences which have led to the current conflict.
Although the participants are committed to reaching a shared solution, each party is still expected to identify and assert his or her respective interest and the parties' respective attorneys will help each of them do so.
IV. PARTICIPATION WITH INTEGRITY
Participants must commit to protecting the privacy, respect and dignity of all involved, including the parties, attorneys and consultants.
Each participant must commit to maintaining a high standard of integrity. Specifically, participants shall not take advantage of the other participants, or of the miscalculations or inadvertent mistakes of others, but shall identify and correct them.
V. EXPERTS AND CONSULTANTS
Sometimes the input of outside experts such as accountants, appraisers, therapists and mediators might be needed to assist the participants in reaching creative and informed solutions. If any such experts are needed, they will be retained jointly. All such experts and other consultants retained in the collaborative process shall be directed to work in a cooperative effort to resolve issues. In the event that the Collaborative Law process terminates, all consultants will be disqualified as witnesses and their work product will be inadmissible as evidence, unless the parties agree otherwise. Additionally, if the parties agree, new consultants will be permitted to review the work product and reports of prior consultants to facilitate the transition for the parties.
VI. CHILDREN'S ISSUES
In resolving issues about sharing the enjoyment of and responsibility for children, the parents, and attorney's shall make every effort to reach amicable solutions that promote the children's best interests.
Parents will act to resolve differences related to the children and to promote a caring, loving and involved relationship between the children and both parents.
Every effort will be made to insulate children from involvement in the parents' disputes.
The parties may utilize the services of any medical personal, therapists, or psychologists when necessary to facilitate a decision.
VII. NEGOTIATION IN GOOD FAITH
The process will involve good faith negotiations.
Each participant will be expected to take a reasoned position in all disputes. Where such positions differ, each participant will use his or her best efforts to create proposals that meet the fundamental needs of both parties and, if necessary, to compromise to reach a settlement of all issues.
Although participants may discuss the likely outcome of a litigated result, none will use threats of abandoning the collaborative process or of litigation as a way of forcing settlement.
VIII. ATTORNEYS' ROLE-ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS
The attorneys' role is to provide an organized framework that will make it easier for the parties to reach an agreement on each issue. The attorneys will help the parties communicate with each other, identify issues, ask questions, make observations, suggest options, help them express needs, goals and feelings, check the workability of proposed solutions and prepare and file all written paperwork with the court, if appropriate. The attorneys and the parties shall work together to reach a solution which serves the needs of both parties, however, at all times each attorney has the responsibility to represent and advocate the interests of their client.
The Collaborative process requires payment to each attorney. The parties will make funds available for this purpose throughout the Collaborative process.
Each attorney is independent from the other attorney and has been retained by only one party in the Collaborative process.
IX. ABUSE OF THE COLLABORATIVE PROCESS
A Collaborative Law attorney will withdraw from a case as soon as possible upon learning that his or her client has withheld or misrepresented information and refuses to provide such information, or otherwise acted so as to undermine or take unfair advantage of the Collaborative Law process. Examples of such violations of the process are: the secret disposition of marital, quasi-marital or separate property, failing to disclose the existence or the true nature of assets and/or obligations, abusing the minor children of the parties or planning to flee the jurisdiction of the court with the children.
X. DISQUALIFICATION BY COURT INTERVENTION
An attorneys representation in the Collaborative process is limited to that process. No attorney representing a party in the Collaborative process can represent that party in court in a proceeding against the other spouse, other than to seek the ratification of an agreement entered into through the Collaborative process. In the event a court filing is unavoidable, both attorneys are disqualified from representing either client and will assist their respective clients in the transition process.
Arlene Richman is an attorney practicing collaborative law and family law in South Florida (including Broward County, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood) since 1987. She is a certified family law mediator/ Collaborative Law florida is a state-wide educational and professional development association and business directory of independent Florida licensed attorneys at law and family law firms who practice in the areas of collaborative divorce and collaborative family law.
Information on this website should not be taken as legal advice. Laws change, situations differ, and there may be exceptions to general rules. Except as otherwise may be provided, this website and contents are © 2009 Collaborative Lawyers, Inc. Collaborative Lawyers, Inc., is a state-wide educational and professional development association and business directory of independent Florida licensed attorneys at law and law firms who practice in the areas of collaborative divorce and collaborative family law. It is not a law firm or attorney referral organization.
Collaborative Lawyers Southeast Florida attorneys serve South Florida, including Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County, and the cities of Miami, Pembroke Pines, Hallandale, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Deerfield Beach, Delray Beach, Lauderhill, Lauderdale Lakes, Coral Springs, Weston, Parkland, Tamarac, Plantation, Sunrise, Miami Lakes, Miami Shores.