What is Collaborative Law?

Collaborative Law is a unique way to resolve legal issues in which both parties retain their own lawyer but those attorneys’ only task is to assist the parties with settling their disputes. The process requires each party to maintain open communication with their lawyer. Everyone involved in the process agrees to work together in a collaborative way, to be respectful, to be honest, and to attempt to reach an agreement.

If the parties cannot settle their case collaboratively, both lawyers must withdraw from further participation. This requirement forces lawyers and their clients to work diligently toward a resolution instead of using the clients’ resources to prepare for litigation.

The collaborative process revolves around informal settlement discussions and round table type meetings for the purpose of resolving issues. Each person’s questions and concerns are addressed and respected in a dignified environment.

Attorney Autumn Hancock of Hancock Law Firm is specially trained in interest-based negotiation, which focuses on understanding and meeting the clients’ needs, goals, and desires. Although she still advocates for her client in the collaborative process, there are no litigation tactics used to reach a satisfactory conclusion for the client.

Throughout this process, the clients are responsible for choosing their outcome. The client will work with Attorney Hancock  to understand the legal consequences for themselves and for the other party. The collaborative process is designed to achieve the best outcome for each person under the circumstances- an outcome that is acceptable to both parties.

How will this be different than a ‘Regular’ Divorce?

  • A traditional litigation model (aka ‘regular’ divorce) is based on each lawyer advocating for only their client’s position, but the collaborative law model encourages understanding of the other party’s interests and concerns as well.
  • A traditional litigation model usually results in continued discord between the parties after the divorce is final. The collaborative process teaches parties to use interest based negotiation strategies and helps to facilitate their ability to cooperate with one another in the future. This is most important if the parties have children. This prevents the parties from ending up in the court system for future conflict.
  • A traditional litigation model typically results in the Court choosing between one of a few “cookie cutter” outcomes for the parties but the collaborative process gives the clients opportunities to be more creative about their property and parenting arrangements and to choose methods to resolve disputes as they arise.
  • A traditional litigation model involves airing personal conflict and documents in the public arena of court files and arguing about sensitive issues in public courtrooms. The collaborative process allows most of the the case to be handled privately in an office or conference room and can offer the opportunity to keep certain issues between the parties and not in public records.