What is a Collaborative Divorce? Highly successful and growing in popularity throughout the country, Collaborative Law has finally arrived to Suffolk County, New York. I believe it will forever change the way people choose to dissolve their marriages.
Collaborative Law is an alternative to both litigation and mediation. Along with a limited number of other experienced divorce lawyers on Long Island, I am a member of the newly formed not-for-profit Collaborative Law Association of New York, Inc. (“CLANY”) (www.thenocourtdivorce.org) . As CLANY members, we accept divorce cases for a fixed fee. Simply put, each spouse hires a lawyer for a reasonable fixed fee which is based upon the complexity of the case. Only half of this fee is paid at the start of the case. The parties and their lawyers agree, in writing, that they will resolve the case together, and do so,out of court.
The Collaborative Divorce process strives to completely eliminate the risks - and costs - of litigation while providing each party with the protection and advocacy that only a personal attorney can provide. Each party has the security of knowing they have their own attorney beside them, every step of the way, to advise them, guide them and protect their rights while they and their attorneys work together to peacefully resolve the case.
The Collaborative Divorce process involves a series of meetings between the attorneys and parties to identify and resolve all issues. Financial documents necessary to assure a fair settlement are exchanged. If needed, assets are valued by neutral experts. Issues are discussed respectfully, openly and honestly, and solutions are arrived at in a creative, peaceful and cost-effective way.
If, after a series of meetings, a settlement is reached, the balance of the fixed fee comes due and an agreement is prepared. On the other hand, if it becomes clear that the case cannot be settled (or if one or both parties decide to litigate), the balance of the fixed fee is waived.
It is important to note that if the parties, at any time, decide to litigate, the lawyers they hired for the Collaborative Divorce cannot represent them in court. The familiar scene of one spouse and his/her attorney walking out of settlement negotiations with a “Well then, we’ll see you in court!” has no place in the Collaborative Divorce process.
A Collaborative Divorce is the sensible solution for couples who truly want to work together to resolve their cases honestly, peacefully and fairly and, of course, with the certainty of knowing precisely what the divorce will cost.