Collaborative Law is a legal dispute resolution process in which you and your spouse, along with specially trained collaborative attorneys, meet face to face and work through the issues of your divorce or separation. You will also have the assistance of mental health and financial neutrals who act as advocates for each party and help them design a settlement that works best for their family.

Unlike the litigation model, the collaborative process takes place in a non-adversarial environment and places great emphasis on identifying the legitimate needs and interests of the parties and their children. It is often much faster and cheaper than the traditional court process. In addition, it can result in a more amicable and mutually acceptable agreement.

A collaborative case is concluded when the parties sign a written settlement agreement that resolves all or most of the disputed issues. If all of the disputed issues cannot be resolved in a collaborative matter, the parties can either choose to litigate the unresolved issues or they may decide to continue with the process to resolve all remaining issues. In the latter scenario, it is important that both parties understand that if all of the disputed issues are not resolved in the collaborative process, the remaining unresolved issues will likely be submitted to the court for resolution and that any agreement reached in the future may be subject to review by the judge.

Once the agreement is signed, the lawyers will prepare and file all necessary documents to finalize the divorce or separation, including the property settlement, custody and visitation plan, child support agreement, alimony agreement, and any other relevant documents. In some cases, the collaborative professionals will also assist in preparing parenting or financial reports to be filed with the court.

Unlike traditional litigation, communication and work products generated in a collaborative matter are not admissible in any court proceedings, except as provided for in the written participation agreement. This protects both clients from the potentially harmful impact of revealing confidential information to the opposing party during negotiations and can be an enormous benefit in the context of a high conflict case.

Finally, one of the most significant benefits of collaborative law is that both the clients and their attorneys voluntarily agree not to go to court or threaten to go to court in the future. This can be an enormous incentive for both parties to stay at the table, even when discussions get tough.

At the same time, both parties retain the right to leave the collaborative process at any time and to hire new attorneys if the case ends up in litigation. However, this can be an expensive and time consuming undertaking. In any event, it is essential that you discuss all available options with your lawyer so that he or she can properly advise you of the pros and cons of each option. If you have any questions regarding collaborative law, or any other dispute resolution method in a divorce or separation case in Long Island, Queens or the greater New York City area, please contact our office for a free consultation.