Parties to a divorce do not always have to be adversaries devoting their precious time and money to contentious litigation. Collaborative law is an innovative method for how to approach a divorce, as it enables the parties to resolve their disputes and end their marriage with minimal court involvement. Though no single approach to divorce is right for every couple, more and more couples are embracing collaborative law as an alternative to litigation or mediation.
To begin the collaborative law process, the parties must each retain their own collaboratively-trained attorneys who agree, in writing, to work together to help the couple reach a mutually beneficial settlement without having to go to court. The parties meet privately with their respective attorneys and may retain additional experts, such as divorce coaches, neutral financial professionals, and child specialists, collectively referred to as “team members”, who provide unbiased expert advice to guide the parties towards an amicable resolution.
In the event that the parties are unable to reach an agreement and one or both of the parties elect to take the matter to court, the attorneys and “team members” are disqualified from representing either party or otherwise participating in the adversarial proceedings. This incentivizes the parties and the attorneys to cooperate and problem-solve, reduces the likelihood of excess conflict, and enables the parties to efficiently resolve their disputes.
Collaborative law differs substantially from mediation. In mediation, a neutral third party (the mediator) facilitates the parties’ negotiation to help reach a settlement. However, the mediator cannot give the parties legal advice, advocate on either party’s behalf, or draft the final settlement documents. Conversely, collaborative law requires both parties to have their own independent lawyers to advise them and negotiate on their behalf. Moreover, when the final agreement is reached, the collaborative lawyers prepare all final settlement documents and accompany the parties to court to finalize their case.
In addition to being a top-notch litigator, Melissa V. Caballero, an associate attorney at The Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. is specially trained and certified in collaborative law and committed to helping clients work together to solve their problems in a constructive and non-adversarial manner.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution involving a neutral third party (the mediator) who facilitates the parties’ negotiation of a settlement without litigation. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. are experienced in representing clients in mediation and skilled at helping clients reach mediated settlements and preparing the necessary settlement documents.