Agreements In The Collaborative Process
Most family law cases result in a settlement short of going to trial. If you are just starting a divorce action you are best served by giving thought to your settlement and the settlement process from the very beginning of your case. If you do, the odds greatly increase that you will reach a settlement that incorporates what is important to you as you transition out of your marriage. If you put work into your settlement from the very beginning of your case then you increase the chance that the divorce process will take less time, be more amicable, and be more cost-efficient than a traditional litigation approach to divorce.
Settlement discussions in traditional litigation cases generally do not start for several months after the case is filed. Often the negotiations are done from a distance and only through the attorneys.
In the few litigation cases I have taken since shifting my practice to collaboration I have challenged this approach, working early in the case to sit down with both attorneys and clients to talk about the case, how it is going to be handled, and how best to work towards resolution.
In most cases I encounter resistance to the idea of such discussions. A common response to my request is that having such a meeting would not be productive, or that the meeting should not take place until the attorney takes the opportunity to send out interrogatories, send out subpoenas, and take depositions. As I always advise my clients to provide all relevant information and other information requested without the need for these steps, my experience is that counsel ends up spending a lot of money on information we were offering for minimal cost.
What generally happens is that settlement discussions do not really start until trial is coming up. As a result, the settlements that are entered into are done under the stress and pressure of having to get ready and pay for trial, rather than a deliberate consideration that allows the parties to create their agreement without that stress and pressure.
In a Collaborative Case we start working on your settlement from the very first meeting that you have with your attorney. In our first meeting we explore what the client holds important and what they initially are thinking about in terms of having a settlement that works for them. The other attorney is having the same conversation with his/her client, letting them know that a mutually agreed resolution is the ultimate goal of the Collaborative process.
At the first Team meeting the work on your final resolution really begins, and it begins with all of us working together.
Considering the resolution of your case just as it is beginning can be a hard thing to do but the benefits of doing so far outweigh putting it off.
Choosing a process that is supportive of your working on a satisfactory resolution from very early in your case is easier, because the clear choice is the Collaborative process.