Recently, at a firm meeting we were talking about the concept of collaborative family law. To be honest, it is a relatively new concept and I did not know all of the details so I began asking questions. The more answers to the questions I received the more I wondered of the benefits of collaborative law.
Apparently, to have a collaborative divorce the husband and wife have to sign a written pledge agreeing not to fight in court and if they do decide to fight in court they have to fire their collaborative lawyer and either go to it alone or hire another lawyer. By “fighting in court” it means nothing more than filing any type of motion which means asking for the court to decide any issue.
Next, the parties and their collaborative lawyers meet all together and openly communicate between one another in an honest and good faith exchange of information. Of course, other than everyone meeting together at the same time in the same room there really is no difference in this part of the process with the normal divorce procedure. Everyone in a divorce is bound by good faith to honestly and completely exchange all information. If either party does not feel the other did so at the time of the final hearing the judge can decide to postpone the hearing to make sure that all information is fully and honestly disclosed.
It is understood that negotiations lead to a mutually acceptable settlement taking into account the highest priorities of all family members. Again, not a new concept since I have been taking that approach for more than 28 years of representing people in divorces.
Apparently, your collaborative lawyer is “specially trained” if you use a mental health or financial specialist they are also “specially trained”. The question I have is whether or not all of these “specially trained” professionals that agree to work together for a positive outcome are actually concerned with your individual best interests.
However, after thinking about collaborative law I realized there could be some situations where it would work. I could see a short-term marriage with little or no assets, maybe without investment or retirement accounts or perhaps even in situations without children. However, most times, a divorce is a fresh start for one or both parties. To know that you have somebody that you can count on to represent your best interest and to take whatever action is necessary to protect your best interests could and should be of utmost concern to a person going through a divorce. The collaborative law process requires you to agree on everything and if there is any disagreement it requires filing a motion with the Court. You have to fire your lawyer and start over. This could be at any stage of the process and could mean spending thousands of dollars for nothing.
Again, I do not know a lot about the collaborative law system and I will look into it more. I am sure there is a time and place but in most situations in my experience having your own attorney looking after your own interests seems to be a better choice. The family law attorneys at Krueger Hernandez & Thompson SC always strive to get results in a cooperative way to keep costs down and keep the matter moving. However, often times one or both parties have been hurt or feel they have been taken advantage of and in those situations we are prepared to do what is necessary to protect our client’s interest. This means we go to court and we convince the judge to do the right thing on our client’s behalf. The collaborative law system doesn’t allow for that and may cost you a lot of money in the process. If you have questions about divorce or post-divorce matters contact the attorneys at Krueger Hernandez & Thompson SC for a no cost, no obligation consultation. We will discuss with you all of your options and help you make the right choice for your situation. In the Madison area call us at (608) 824-8540, in the Baraboo area call us at (608) 356-3961 or statewide at (866) 455-2993.