1. Is the Collaborative Law Process used in conflicts other than Family Law?
    1. Yes, there are Collaborative attorneys who practice in employment law, business law, probate law and other civil conflicts.  It is most often used in family law cases including child support, paternity, non-parent custody, parenting plan modifications, maintenance modifications, de facto parenting cases, non-parent visitation and a host of other family law concerns. Many of the following questions will refer to spouses and children but the responses are useful for anyone considering a Collaborative Process for resolving their conflict.
  2. I like the sound of the Collaborative Process but my spouse has questions.  What do we do?
    1. The Collaborative Law Process is voluntary.  You may talk with the other person and point out some of the benefits of the Collaborative Process:
      • Together, you remain in control of the outcome and keep individual, as well as collective needs and interests central to your agreement
      • Together, you know best what an equitable outcome looks like and if you are parents, you know what is best for your children
      • The process starts you on a path of strong, constructive co-parenting, which will benefit your children as you move through the process and into the future
      • Your communication skills will be strengthened, benefiting all your relationships
      • Your privacy is better protected; most things in a divorce file are public record

      For more information, start by asking your spouse to review the information on this website. The next step to learn more would be a no obligation consultation with a Collaborative attorney or other Collaborative professional.  If you have retained your own Collaborative Attorney he, she or they can also answer questions each of you have about the process.

      If the other person is already represented, your Collaborative lawyer will contact their attorney and explore whether a Collaborative Process can be used to help you reach agreement.

  3. Is my case appropriate for a Collaborative Law Process?
    1. The Collaborative Law Process requires a good faith commitment to resolve your dispute by agreement.  You will be asked to make voluntary disclosures of information and communicate in a respectful way.  The Collaborative professionals will support your effective communication and maintain balance.  Your attorney will help you to identify and convey your needs and interests.
      You may feel that communication in your relationship has become so poor that the process will not work for you.  KCCL members are trained to work with people in situations where communication is challenging and a consultation with one of our professionals can help discern whether the Collaborative Process will work for your situation.  Many people who have experienced poor communication or power imbalances in a relationship have found the support they needed in the Collaborative Process to reach a successful resolution.
  4. What if I have a concern about my spouse’s drug or alcohol use?
    1. Opinions differ on this topic. The safety of everyone must be our first concern. Because of the confidentiality of the Collaborative Process, it may be easier for the participants to be forthcoming about their concerns, challenges and problems so the first steps towards accepting and choosing effective solutions and treatments can be taken. Facing  the challenge of a drug or alcohol use disorder is more effective if the person who is struggling makes a choice to change.  Consult with one of our trained Collaborative Attorney members about your specific situation and options. Your matter is not inappropriate for the Collaborative Process simply because there are challenging issues.
  5. What if there has been domestic violence in my relationship?
    1. Opinions differ on this topic. The safety of everyone involved must be the first consideration.  Collaborative practice does not avoid dealing with domestic violence issues and can help a couple with safety protocols, treatment programs and appropriate referrals while maintaining privacy and respect for the willing participants involved when these issues emerge.  Sometimes court intervention is necessary and a consultation with one of our trained Collaborative Attorney members can help you understand your options.
  6. How much does the Collaborative Law Process cost?
    1. Each matter is unique and it is impossible to predict a cost. The willingness of the participants to reach agreement has a significant impact on the expense of the process.  At first glance, the Collaborative team concept may seem like an expensive proposition. It is designed to manage costs with voluntary exchanges of information and targeted use of professionals.
      One advantage of the collaborative process is that you will have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the start. You will understand the role of each professional and the steps in the process.  All of the professionals are working with you to achieve your resolution.In contrast, traditional adversarial processes are controlled by two parties working at odds with each other rather than together.  You may each hire experts to gather and assess the same information.  You may not like what the parenting evaluator says so you’ll have to hire another to counter the report. Your attorney may claim to be working toward an agreed resolution while at the same time incurring the cost of preparing evidence for a trial that may never occur.  You will have less control over the approach and the cost because you are working offensively or defensively rather than collaboratively.
  7. What happens if we can’t come to an agreement?
    1. The majority of Collaborative Law matters resolve with an agreement. In some cases, the participants will decide that an adversarial process is a preferred approach. You may hear that you have to “start over” if you decide to end the Collaborative Process.  This isn’t the case.  Your Collaborative Attorneys will withdraw because they cannot change hats to represent you in an adversarial matter.  However, they will help you make an orderly transition and you can agree to take much of the information already gathered into your adversarial process.  You may also continue to be bound by any agreements that were made in the Collaborative Process.
  8. How long will the process take?
    1. The length of the process varies but depends in large part on the complexity of your issues and readiness of each participant to work toward a result.  In many cases, the participants are at different emotional places which can affect the pace of the process.  Your Collaborative team will work to achieve emotional preparation for a resolution while also working with each participant to confidently negotiate.  The team will work together to prevent the use of delay as a strategy or tactic.
  9. Are conversations with my attorney private in a Collaborative Process?
    1. Your Collaborative Attorney represents you.  Your individual conversations are confidential and privileged.  At the same time, there is more openness and transparency in a Collaborative Process than there is in traditional legal processes.  Your attorney will not share things that you ask to keep private but may encourage you to share things that are relevant to reach your goal for resolution.  In rare cases, a request to withhold relevant information rather than share it might result in a situation where your attorney has to withdraw.
  10. How are decisions made in a Collaborative Law process?
    1. Each member of the Collaborative team has a role in moving you toward resolution.  Parenting issues may be resolved entirely in sessions with the Collaborative coach who has special training in family systems and child development.  Financial issues are resolved through negotiations in joint sessions with attorneys and financial specialists.  The Collaborative coach is often also present to facilitate effective communication.  The agreement you make is your own.  The Collaborative process allows you to be creative and consider options for resolution that will work best for your situation.  You can consider solutions that a judge couldn’t or wouldn’t order.
  11. How is a Collaborative Law Process different from Mediation?
    1. A mediator is a neutral professional who facilitates a discussion between two parties in an effort to help them come to an agreement.  The mediator cannot advise either party.  You can participate in mediation with or without an attorney present.  Mediators have different styles and may use an interest-based approach similar to that used in a Collaborative Process.  In many cases, what is referred to as mediation is an evaluative settlement conference in which the parties are placed in different rooms and the mediator shuttles offers back and forth.  This mediation approach is called “evaluative” because the mediator will evaluate your chances of success at a trial so you can assess the cost of trial compared to agreement.
      In contrast, the Collaborative Process is always interest based and threats of trial as a strategy to secure agreement are not permitted.  KCCL Collaborative Attorney members have all received training in interest-based negotiation so they work with the clients to negotiate a resolution.  The client has the benefit of a professional who can provide advice while also using the skills of a mediator during the process.
  12. What other things should I consider when deciding between a traditional and a Collaborative Process?
    1. When you have an ongoing relationship with each other, for example, as parents, employer-employee, business partners, neighbors or family members, Collaborative Law is a excellent option because it offers a way to resolve the conflict in a way that supports the future relationship. The traditional adversarial legal process pits litigants against each other which makes it much more likely that there will be damage done to the relationship going forward.
      The Collaborative Law process provides a safe and structured environment for people in dispute to communicate and negotiate with each other while being represented by lawyers whose only interest is in assisting their clients to reach resolution.  In a traditional adversarial legal process, your attorney may be encouraging an agreement while at the same time planning a trial strategy in case negotiations fail.The Collaborative Law Process supports you to reach a resolution that is unique to the needs and interests of the participants.  You are not limited by the solutions that a judge or arbitrator would impose and your resulting agreement is private.  The decision of a court is public record in most cases.
  13. Why is it important to have a Collaboratively trained attorney?
    1. Often attorneys who have not been trained and have not gained experience in the Collaborative Process think they are cooperative and pragmatic enough to participate in a Collaborative case and that the Collaborative Process is not dramatically different from how they practice. Very little of law school or traditional practice prepares an attorney for the Collaborative Process. Attorneys specifically trained in Collaborative Practice have learned a unique conflict resolution skill set.   A unique skill set is required to work effectively on a Collaborative team. Your chances of success are greatly increased if both attorneys are trained in the Collaborative Process.