The collaborative process is unique in its approach to resolving legal conflicts. You begin with a specially-trained collaborative professional, who is skilled not only in the law but also in the art of negotiating effective settlements in a collaborative manner. You meet privately with your collaborative attorney, sharing with that individual your concerns and goals.
Your attorney then speaks with your spouse’s collaborative attorney and together, they will design an agenda for your first group meeting, one which addresses the nuts and bolts of the collaborative process as well as the particular issues that might be most pressing for you and your spouse at that time.
At your first meeting, the four of you will review the collaborative agreement, a sample of which is included on this website. You discuss the agreement in detail, since it represents the commitment that the four of you are making to one another as well as to the collaborative process.
After you all sign the agreement, you and your spouse will be encouraged to talk about your goals. Some of these goals will address short-term needs and concerns but your collaborative professionals will also encourage you to look further ahead in your lives, toward significant events in the lives of your growing children and toward your own retirement.
These goals will become the foundation upon which you and your spouse will build your settlements, and you and your collaborative professionals will refer to them throughout the process, to insure that your agreements are addressing your goals. Finally, the four of you will develop an agenda for the next collaborative session, including a discussion and listing of documents that each of you will produce and share.
The collaborative process builds upon this very important first meeting. You, your spouse and your attorneys will continue to meet as a group until you come to a full settlement. What makes the collaborative process successful, however, is in the way those meetings are conducted. Your collaborative professionals are specifically trained in the art of generating options and helping their clients move through impasse. Therefore, the collaborative session is very different from a traditional four-way meeting between attorneys and clients.