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Collaborative Family Law

Collaborative Family Law is a structured process that provides an alternative to "going to court." The collaborative process enables couples involved in family law disputes to resolve their differences in a non-adversarial setting. Each party is represented by legal counsel to advise them during decision-making. The participants and their lawyers enter into a participation agreement waiving their right to confidentiality, committing to voluntarily disclose all relevant information as well as share costs of any needed experts. With the help of Collaborative Family Law attorneys, settlement is reached through informal discussions, conferences, and negotiation.

OWM Law has Collaborative Family Law attorneys trained in this approach, who will work with you to facilitate a resolution without litigation.

How We Can Help You

David Kaplan and Victoria Hollister are trained in the Collaborative Family Law process and are associated with the Collaborative Family Law Affiliates.

The Collaborative Process

The process begins with both parties entering into an agreement not to litigate their case but instead to work with trained professionals in the various facets of their dispute. A series of meetings occurs between the parties with their attorneys and any other experts they need to place all of the issues accurately in front of the parties. This may include realtors, financial counselors, parent facilitators and others, as the parties may agree. The number of meetings depends on the complexity of the issues as well as the personal difficulties the parties may have in reaching a resolution that is acceptable to both of them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all lawyers do collaborative practice?

Collaborative Family Law involves specific training and practice habits. Good Family Law attorneys will often use collaborative techniques simply by chance. To truly use the collaborative approach, a consistent philosophy toward the case must be presented. This involves both parties and their attorneys entering into a contract with the goal of reaching a resolution without litigation. The collaborative attorney helps the client focus on their needs, instead of the wants emphasized in litigation. This opens the opportunity for the parties to understand each other's position and to look at the needs of the entire family. The litigation attorney listens to the client's wants and answers with what the law will permit. The Collaborative Family Law attorney listens to the client's needs, provides the necessary information, and allows the client to explore the answers.

What are the benefits of Collaborative Family Law?

Generally the disputes are resolved in an atmosphere of mutual cooperation.  The process provides greater privacy and confidentiality, allows the parties to retain control of the settlement process, and can save time and money.

What if the collaborative approach doesn't work?

The Collaborative approach does not work for everyone. If one or both of the parties wish to fight, they will most likely litigate.

Although the parties may have significant differences and be unhappy with each other, they can successfully engage in a Collaborative resolution if their goal is a satisfactory conclusion to their disputes. Some couples can only reach partial agreement and may wish to litigate other issues. Should any of the issues proceed with litigation, the attorneys representing the parties in the Collaborative process cannot be involved with the litigation and the parties would be required to retain other attorneys.

Is the collaborative law approach less expensive than litigation or mediation?

As with mediation and litigation, it all depends on the amount of time and the complexity of the case. The parties are in control of how much they wish to dispute. Collaborative practice allows the parties to determine which issues are most important to them and to get them on the table as rapidly as they wish. Usually the Collaborative process moves faster than the litigation process and in the end is less expensive.

In considering the three alternatives, the parties should look at both the financial expense and the emotional expense. Both mediation and Collaborative Law offer the possibility of limiting the emotional expense.

How common is the collaborative family law approach?

In the United States, Collaborative Family Law practitioners can be found in almost every state. In some areas, it is the predominant approach to resolving divorce, co-habitation and other family disputes. Pennsylvania has a growing community of trained Collaborative Family Law attorneys. The Collaborative Family Law Affiliates is a group of experienced independent professionals trained in the Collaborative divorce process. It includes experienced domestic relations attorneys for each party and other professionals who understand and can support the process.


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