Collaborative Practice is a process in which clients, attorneys, mental health professionals and financial professionals cooperate in positive, respectful negotiations towards resolving legal issues. The clients, the attorneys, and other Collaborative Professionals commit to keeping the dispute out of court.
During the process, professional teams can be assembled, as needed, to ensure support in all areas including legal, emotional, parenting, and financial. The attorneys represent only their own clients. Other professionals, however, are neutral. This avoids duplication of the use of costly, competing experts which often occurs in litigation.
The Collaborative Process encourages respect among the participants and helps them communicate openly in a secure environment. For example, in family law cases, the process often enables spouses to co-exist and communicate better after their divorce. This is invaluable, particularly when children of any age are involved. The Collaborative Process places a high value on the relationship that will exist in the restructured family by obtaining mutually acceptable outcomes.
Unlike traditional, court-based litigation, where courtrooms are open to the public, and filed documents are posted on the internet, the collaborative process is private. The collaborative approach can be more efficient and creative in that it is not bound by court schedules, dockets or the confines of the law. The collaborative approach considers what is important to the individuals and their families in arriving at mutually acceptable resolutions. In addressing the goals and interests of both parties, the collaborative team can develop creative solutions, as opposed to applying a general rule of law. Parties are direct participants in the process, and have more control over the process and the outcome, not leaving important decisions to judges or third parties as in litigation.