Over the last ten years, some people getting divorced have opted to enter the collaborative family law process, rather than the traditional litigation approach. The theory behind collaborative divorce is that there is less animosity as there is no litigation involved. Additionally, in theory, it can be less expensive because the parties share experts (psychological, CPA, CFP, etc.). Decisions are made through a series of meetings with the parties, their lawyers and the respective experts depending on the subject matter of the particular meeting.
However, collaborative law can also be punitive. If either of the parties decides that the collaborative process is not adequately meeting their needs and “opts out” of the process, both parties are forced to retain new counsel and start the litigation process from the beginning. Thus, there is a substantial financial hit that must be absorbed by both parties to extricate themselves from the collaborative process.
So, how do you employ the benefits of collaborative law while still maintaining the benefits of litigation? The answer is simple: Cooperative Law. “Cooperative Law” allows you to use a hybrid collaborative process without entering into a formal collaborative agreement. Thus, if things blow up, or one party is abusing the collaborative proces, the other party can decide to pursue a litigation strategy without the necessity of hiring new counsel and bringing him/her up to speed.
What’s important to remember is that every case is different. Your particular circumstances should dictate the manner in which you proceed. So, don’t allow yourself to get pigeon holed based on the personal proclivities of your lawyer. Ask about the pros and cons of each as applied to your case and which process is most likely to help you achieve your goals.