In today’s media, we often see legal disputes portrayed in the form of high-drama courtroom battles. The reality is quite different: when a dispute comes up, many people will try options like mediation or arbitration before they even think about starting a long and expensive lawsuit.
However, there’s one more form of legal dispute resolution that doesn’t get talked about enough on TV: collaborative law. The collaborative method boasts several advantages over litigation, arbitration, and even mediation. The one downside? You don’t get to shout “Objection!” with your finger pointed dramatically in the air.
What is collaborative law?
As the name suggests, collaborative law is a more cooperative form of legal dispute resolution. It encourages two parties to work together to resolve their dispute—as opposed to a combative or conflict-based approach that can leave both parties at a disadvantage from the get-go. The objective, instead of “winning” or taking something from the other party, is to find a suitable compromise that benefits everyone involved to some extent.
How does it work?
Collaborative law typically involves two attorneys—one for each side—as well as a mental health professional and sometimes a financial professional who both act as neutral parties. The neutral professionals will guide and support both parties as they work together to reach an agreement. Once they have resolved their issues, the parties and their attorneys will sign a contract that will legally bind the agreed-upon terms without going to court.
The collaborative method is often used in divorce, separation, and child custody issues, although it can also be useful in business disputes and similar scenarios.
How is it better than the alternatives?
Collaborative law offers several benefits, including the following:
- Control. Both parties have a great degree of control over the outcome of their collaborative sessions. In litigation or arbitration, on the other hand, parties will have issues decided for them by a judge or neutral party.
- Co-Parenting. Collaborative law encourages less conflict and more communication, which reinforces the concept of co-parenting. Preserving a relationship as co-parents is usually much better for children who are adjusting to your divorce.
- Efficiency. Collaborative law allows more flexibility for each party’s schedule and is generally much faster than court. Cases can often be resolved in a few months, instead of several months to a year—which also results in significantly reduced legal expenses.
- Informality. Collaboration can be much less stressful simply because of the flexible, informal setting. It’s also entirely voluntary, so you never have to agree on anything that doesn’t feel right to you.
- Privacy. Unlike litigation, collaborative law usually takes place in a private setting like a lawyer’s office. The process protects sensitive personal information that would otherwise become public record.
- Support. Mediation doesn’t always involve a mental health professional, a financial professional, or even a lawyer for each party. By contrast, parties often feel much more supported in a collaborative setting.
How do I get started?
You can use collaborative law to efficiently and effectively resolve divorce issues like property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. Call Easterling Law, PLLC to discuss your options with an experienced family lawyer. We will help you choose the divorce or separation method that works best for your situation.