First you meet alone with your collaborative family lawyer and together the two of you will talk about your goals, and your legal rights and responsibilities. Then the two of you will have a series of settlement meetings with your spouse and his or her lawyer.
At the first settlement meeting both parties and both lawyers enter into an agreement to settle all issues without going to court. To read a sample Collaborative Family Law Agreement, click here.
At the settlement meetings, the lawyers assist the parties to communicate their concerns and goals for the future, rather than "complaining and blaming" about the past.
You and your spouse cooperate fully in sharing all financial and other information. You also cooperate in obtaining necessary information such as real estate appraisals, or valuations of other assets.
When all issues have been resolved, a formal Separation Agreement will be prepared and signed. That is a legally binding document that replaces a court order.
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.