More and more couples, facing divorce or legal separation, are already turning away from contentious court proceedings and long-lived litigation to legal mediation. Yet, there is a third option, separate from litigation and mediation: the collaborative divorce process. This method is only a few decades old, but it already boasts a worldwide network of legal practitioners.
Mediation involves a couple meeting with a trained and licensed mediator to work out the terms of their divorce, consulting separately with their respective attorneys and financial professionals as needed. On the other hand, collaborative family law involves the two partners’ attorneys meeting directly and separately from their clients. This approach can be beneficial when clients do not trust themselves to talk directly with each other, or where there is a concern about spousal abuse. The “collaborative” in the collaborative divorce process refers to attorneys working together to create an agreement in the best interest of both their clients.
Collaborative family law has a scope beyond that of divorce cases. It can also help cohabiting couples separate, or with post-divorce financial issues that arise such as college tuition or support for adult children.
Though it is not widely known in public consciousness, collaborative family law practice is not fringe, nor is it risky. Thousands of families worldwide have benefited from the collaborative divorce process in a way they would not have if they had undergone mediation or litigation.
The collaborative divorce process originated in the Midwest United States in the early 1990s. Over the following three decades, the collaborative approach to family law matters has spread rapidly throughout the English-speaking world—the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand—and beyond the Anglophone sphere. The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) has some two-and-a-half thousand members worldwide, with some twenty thousand professionals worldwide receiving training from the organization. [Our highly qualified attorneys are among these] Closer to home, the American Bar Association has a committee on collaborative law.
The American Congress formalized the collaborative law process just in 2009 with the Uniform Collaborative Law Act and its amendments, providing individual states with a template to base their own collaborative law regulations on. Many localities already had and continue to formulate their own best practices in regard to collaborative family law.
Collaborative family law is an accepted process in Massachusetts and our associates are some of the finest practitioners in the state. Call our office today to discuss if a collaborative legal process is right for your family situation.