About Collaborative Practice

Collaborative Model Litigation Model
Each party must be represented by a lawyer who has had specialized training in the collaborative process. Each party is typically represented by a lawyer.
The lawyers and clients each sign a Participation Agreement which requires that they adhere to collaborative principles. The goals and expectations of each lawyer and each client in terms of the process and settlement may be very different. One side may be more committed to settlement and the other to litigation which can lead to a disconnect in terms of resolution.
The parties, their lawyers and other collaborative professionals work as a cooperative team to reach the best possible resolution. The parties and their lawyers are opposed in interest; the primary goal is to obtain the maximum result possible often to the detriment of long term relationships.
The collaborative principles stress that settlement discussions must take place in an atmosphere in which there is mutual respect. The collaborative lawyer’s training assists in maintaining this atmosphere. The nature of the litigation model often entails each side making exaggerated and derogatory allegations against the other party which can have damaging long term effects on the parties’ relationship with each other and with their children.
Collaborative professionals such as accountants, financial planners, child specialists or coaches may be retained by the parties jointly to assist them in reaching a resolution. The YCP requires that these collaborative professionals have also received specialized training. Professionals (mental health or financial) can be retained by one side to advance their case; occasionally they are jointly retained.
The parties conduct the settlement discussions. Their lawyers’ role is to provide legal advice to their client and to generally support and assist the client through the process. The lawyer’s role is to provide legal advice. Generally the lawyer will control the settlement negotiations although he or she will have instructions for settlement from his/her client. In this model, lawyers are conscious of crafting a settlement that reflects legal principles.
The parties are in control of the process. They can take as much or as little time as they need to reach a resolution. Although most parties who adopt the litigation model attempt settlement, the court has more influence over the decision making process. The court’s schedule and rules significantly influence the speed with which a resolution can take place.
Parties cooperate fully in obtaining and sharing all financial and other important information. The rules of court require that parties make full financial disclosure yet these rules can be difficult and expensive to enforce.
The process reduces conflict and maintains good faith which increases the likelihood that parents can cooperate in the parenting of their children and reach solutions which promote their children's best interests. The process can exacerbate an existing conflict and can destroy what goodwill might have previously existed between parties.
There are no court papers to be prepared and no court hearings. If parties opt to proceed to court there is typically a substantial amount of paperwork that must be completed. There may be several court hearings in which the party and his/her lawyer must remain at court for several hours for only a brief appearance in front of a judge.
If settlement is not reached, the lawyers must withdraw and neither the lawyers nor any member of their respective firms may represent the clients in subsequent litigation. The lawyers may represent clients throughout all aspects of the process.