What Is Collaborative Family Law?

The essence of Collaborative Family Law is a pledge by both parties and their attorneys to reach a settlement without the involvement of the Court. They agree to work together in good faith, following a process that enables them to retain their self-respect and control over the outcome. Divorce will always remain a significant life event. But there is life after divorce. Collaborative Family Law helps the parties embrace the future by providing them with a less destructive way to resolve issues and get on with life. Following are frequently asked questions about Collaborative Family Law.

  1. What is Collaborative Family Law?

    It is a process of divorcing in which both parties and their attorneys pledge in writing to resolve all issues by agreement without the involvement of the Court. the emphasis is on finding mutually-agreeable solutions rather than engaging in a protracted legal battle.

  2. Am I represented by an attorney in Collaborative Family Law?

    Yes, both parties retain attorneys. In addition to consulting privately with your attorney, you will participate in four-way meetings with your spouse and his/her attorney. The purpose of this is to maintain an atmosphere of cooperation and open communication so that a settlement can be reached that meets the needs of all family members.

  3. Are other professionals involved in the process?

    Yes. Collaborative Family Law is true to its name in that it involves the counsel of child and family specialists and financial advisors. You will meet with these other professionals as needed.

  4. What makes Collaborative Family Law different from other divorce processes?

    Collaborative Family Law recognizes that a marriage may be ending, but that relationships and obligations continue, especially when the family includes children. It seeks to replace the adversarial approach of the typical divorce with a more respectful process that preserves the dignity of both parties. Collaborative Family Law is a solutions-oriented approach that helps couples create a settlement that addresses their family's individual needs.

  5. Is Collaborative Family Law less expensive than traditional divorce?

    It can be. The process is designed to be more efficient, with four-way meetings between the parties and their attorneys facilitating a settlement. Collaborative Family Law eliminates the multiple court appearances and conflict that are often part of traditional divorce, thereby reducing the emotional and financial costs. Your Collaborative Family Law attorney is the best source of information about fees and costs.

  6. What happens if agreement cannot be reached and one or both parties want to pursue a court battle?

    The spouses and attorneys are bound by a written pledge not to go to court. If agreement can't be reached, Collaborative Family Law attorneys may suggest bringing in mediators to facilitate a settlement. However, if one or both parties wish to litigate, both attorneys are legally obligated to withdraw from the process and can no longer represent their clients. This means that both spouses have to hire new attorneys and follow the traditional divorce process through the court system, adding substantial conflict and expense to the divorce.

  7. How can I be sure my spouse will disclose all necessary information under Collaborative Family Law?

    Collaborative Family Law assumes that both parties will act in good faith. They agree to this at the start. If one party fails to be honest about any information, it could threaten the continuation of the process under Collaborative Family Law.

  8. Who practices Collaborative Family Law?

    An attorney who is a member of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Wisconsin, Inc. will have family law experience. In addition, the attorney will have received special training in Collaborative Family Law. Be sure to ask about your attorney's experience and training if you choose the Collaborative Family Law approach.

  9. What are the benefits of Collaborative Family Law?

    In summary, it results in valuable benefits:

    • It establishes a team instead of adversaries. You all work together and retain control of the process.
    • It enables you to bring in expert consultants, such as child and family specialists and financial advisors, to provide valuable perspective.
    • You can schedule meetings without waiting for court dates. This means you generally spend less time, and as a result, less money.
    • Your issues stay within the Collaborative Family Law setting for more privacy and greater confidentiality.
    • You and your spouse shape the agreement together -- which means you both are more likely to honor it and avoid any future returns to court.