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Determining whether collaborative family law is the best process

Many a time divorce is automatically associated with an adversarial process with a judge presiding, family law attorney filing this or that motion and other paperwork while the parties involved in the divorce proceedings are emotionally and financially drained. This image however, is not necessarily the reality and divorcing couples have the option to settle their divorce and resolve the matter through another process referred to as the collaborative family law process.

In the collaborative family law process parties are still represented by lawyers but dissolution happens in a non-adversarial setting. To partake in the process both parties and their counsel have to sign a participating agreement which, in essence, states that the parties will work cooperatively together on matters which arise in their dissolution and reach a settlement which is satisfactory to both sides.

Inherent in the process is for parties to partake in the process, be open and disclose information to help settle the dissolution. Parties have to partake on a good faith basis, be cooperative, honest and open. Furthermore their counsel should adhere to professional ethics and work to settle the divorce matter without a trial or litigation. Without participation on the part of all involved, the process would not succeed.

The collaborative family law process uses alternative dispute resolution techniques such as mediation, settlement meeting, informal discussions to reach an amicable and satisfactory settlement. In some complex cases the use of experts may be necessary. The benefits of a collaborative family law process include the parties mutually agreeing to whatever settlement through cooperation, reduced anxiety because of the non-adversarial atmosphere, sense of control over the process, confidential and private process and reduced cost.

The process can be started at any time and it is important to keep in mind that, if a settlement cannot be reached, then new lawyers have to represent the parties for litigation. Furthermore, some cases, such as domestic violence cases, may not be appropriate for the collaborative family law process. The Florida bar maintains a list of lawyers in the state who are in good standing and members of the collaborative law process. For anyone interested in this process should consider contacting an attorney or law firm for more information.

Source: Collaborative Family Law Professionals of South Florida, "About Collaborative Family Law," Accessed May 25, 2015

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