Going through a separation is difficult enough, without the legal process adding "flame to the fire". Unlike the traditional adversarial legal approach, the CFL process encourages the parties to look for solutions that work for both of them. The goal is a win-win solution, rather than one spouse winning and one spouse losing. This approach usually reduces the conflict and tension between the spouses.
Where the spouses are parents with school aged children, the CFL process puts the children's needs first. The parents can talk together in the CFL meetings about their children's needs and wishes. The parents can cooperate in working out a parenting arrangement that meets the needs of the children, and fits their unique family situation. For example, if one child has early morning swim practices, and one parent works shift work, the parents, with the help of the lawyers, can negotiate a custom-made schedule and parenting plan.
In the settlement meetings, the lawyers encourage the husband and wife to communicate in a "civilized" way, focusing on the issues and solutions, rather than criticizing each other for what went wrong in the past. The spouses learn to have problem-solving discussions. This creates a basis for positive family interactions in the future.
The CFL process is private and efficient. The settlement meetings can be scheduled to suit the schedules of all four participants, and often an agreement can be finalized within four to six months.
The CFL process is usually less costly than going to court. The expense will vary from one case to another depending on many factors. Generally speaking, the greater the cooperation, the less the cost.
In Collaborative Practice, you commit to:
1. Negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement without having courts decide issues.
2. Maintain open communication and information sharing.
3. Create shared solutions acknowledging the highest priorities of all.