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Collaborative Divorce January 24, 2008

Posted by margolinlegal in Dissolution, Domestic Partners, Legal Developments, Property Division, settlement, Spousal Support.
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Having a trial is a way, but not the only way to resolve your case. There are many tools available for resolving your case other than a trial. Good family law lawyers are problem solvers, and the good ones recommend that their clients try to resolve their disputes outside the courtroom. Many jurisdictions have mandatory mediation (without lawyers) for parenting time and custody issues. Many good lawyers recommend their clients use private (for a fee) attorney guided mediation for property and custody and parenting time issues. Many participate in judicial settlement conferences where a judge attempts to guide the parties towards a cooperative resolution. If successful, the benefit of these tools to the client is usually lower cost, less conflict, and an agreement they chose, rather than having a judge tell them what the result is.

Some specially trained lawyers are using a new process called “Collaborative Divorce” designed to keep clients out of the courthouse from the beginning. Collaborative Divorce is a non-litigious party based settlement process in which a husband and wife or domestic partners work together to dissolve their relationship. The process can result in less cost, stress and judicial involvement than a litigated divorce or domestic partnership dissolution. The main idea is for the parties to work together to end their relationship in a manner which allows for each party to be self-sustaining financially and that serves the best interest of their child.

In a Collaborative Divorce case, the parties use a team of professionals to work on specific areas of their case. For example, if a child is involved, then the parties would have a child specialist on their team. In all cases, a financial specialist trained specifically in divorce finance and a mental health practitioner will be used. One benefit of the collaborative divorce process is that it can produce much more creative methods of property division and spousal/child support than a judge in a litigated case would order.

At the beginning of the case, the parties sign a collaborative practice agreement or participation agreement, which outlines the essential principles of the collaborative process. The agreement limits the parties’ attorney-client confidentiality and sets forth the rule that if the collaborative process is unsuccessful, then all of the professionals involved in the case, including both parties’ lawyers, will no longer work on the case. In addition, any materials or information produced in the process will not be admissible in court.

This process is very popular in Canada, Australia, and in some states in the US. It has not taken off yet in Oregon at a substantial level. There are, however, a number of collaboratively trained lawyers and team professionals in the Portland area. This is a growing field, and something to seriously consider if both you and your spouse wish to avoid the expense, stress, and frustration of traditional, adversarial litigation. Our office maintains a list of family law lawyers trained in the collaborative process.

Comments»

1. Howard MacKinnon - January 24, 2008

Great article, it is so much more beneficial if both parties can come to a Collaborative Divorce or Uncontested Divorce, everybody wins in this type legal process! Especially if you can put one’s ego in check, and have a mutual agreement… Maybe even give a little and take a little less in some regards it might seem that your the one always giving more, but in the long run it will come back to you 10 times…

Thanks,

Howard M

2. Collaborative Divorce | Org Legal - January 26, 2008

[…] Oregon Divorce Blog has a post about collaborative divorce, which is fairly new to Oregon. Divorce lawyers know about it, but not many of their future clients […]

3. CLorg - August 22, 2008

There are some very important factors to consider when choosing a form of divorce and CL is a relatively new field. Please visit http://www.MyCollaborativeLawDivorce.org for a discussion of CL and its ins/outs. As always, buyer beware!

4. Michael - January 4, 2009

Collaborative divorce sounds interesting and potentially more effective than other approaches, but it also sounds way more expensive if there is a “team of specialists” at work throughout the process. Is this true?


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