Collaborative Law And Divorce

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By David Diggs
The Law Office Of David V. Diggs

Collaborative law is gaining in popularity, particularly as a means to resolve family law disputes. The fundamental precept of collaborative law is that the parties and their counsel contractually bind themselves to pursue a non-adversarial resolution. This means that if the collaborative process breaks down, both attorneys must withdraw, for they have agreed that they will not pursue contested litigation. It is undeniably preferable for children if parents resolve differences as civilly as possible. Most people, being reasonably minded, may recognize the ample benefits of addressing divorce issues in a manner that avoids nasty, expensive and time-consuming lawsuits.

A collaborative, problem-solving approach also has the potential to reduce the impact and stress of the divorce on children, both during the process and going forward, after legal agreements have been established. By engaging in solution-focused interactions, the emphasis is on the children’s best interests. The practical challenges of how to allocate parenting time and sharing child-related expenses may be worked out in detail so there is less uncertainty and conflict going forward. The children benefit by having the details spelled out. They should never serve as the messenger for these types of issues. The parents may develop their own successful methods to tackle future issues more quickly and effectively, further reducing the negativity that could impact the kids. The sooner everyone knows what to expect, the faster the adults and the children can enjoy a new normal.

Despite these advantages, collaborative law remains somewhat controversial, particularly among divorce lawyers. More traditional practitioners muse that they collaborate all the time. They talk to the other attorney. They exchange documents. They negotiate. Being old-fashioned litigators, however, they reserve the right to file suit, propound extensive discovery and preserve their client’s day in court. Some family law attorneys feel restricted by a process that would bar them from the courthouse.

When considering a collaborative approach to a family law dispute, it is important that a client be fully advised regarding the risks and benefits involved. Essentially, the collaborative attorney is limiting the scope of his or her representation of the client. One can imagine that added cost is a possibility if the attorney who has worked toward a collaborative resolution must withdraw so that litigation may be filed. For the right parties, collaborative law is a reasonable — even civilized — approach to divorce.

Not all cases are suitable for collaborative law. Litigation might be necessary, particularly in situations involving domestic violence, dissipation of assets and/or when one spouse has been kept in the dark regarding the family finances.

Collaborative law is one way to resolve disputes when a marriage falters. If you find yourself contemplating separation or divorce, you will have many questions. You should consult with an attorney who is familiar with this area of the law and who will assist you in making informed decisions. David Diggs is experienced in collaborative law and litigation. If you need further information regarding this subject, contact him at The Law Office of David V. Diggs LLC, located at 8684 Veterans Highway, Suite 204, in Millersville. Call 410-244-1171 or email david@diggslaw.com.

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