The process is generally less costly than litigation
The lawyers share with their clients a financial incentive to make the collaborative process work. The lawyers have not succeeded unless they help their clients create a win-win solution. In the adversarial process, much of the community estate can end up with the lawyers.
The process is generally less time-consuming
If careful attention is paid to the tried and true stages of the process, it will be completed in a well-scripted and timely fashion, often within 4-6 meetings. Compare this to a litigated divorce which can take as long as one year (or more) to complete.
A climate of cooperation reduces the stress that accompanies any divorce
The Principles and Guidelines for the Practice of Collaborative Divorce provide a common set of rules that each spouse, attorney, and any other participant, must agree to follow in good faith in carrying out the Collaborative Law process. These Guidelines are intended to eliminate the kind of insensitive conduct and practices aimed at exploiting the weaknesses of the other side that too often occur in the adversarial setting. In Collaborative Divorce all participants provide an open, honest exchange of information. Neither takes advantage of the other or of the miscalculations or inadvertent mistakes of others, but instead identifies and corrects them. Part of the attorneys’ responsibility is to hold the divorcing couple to their commitments in this regard.
Each party has the assistance of counsel
Because so much is at stake when people seek to dissolve a marriage, and because Family Law has become so complex, most people find they cannot or do not want to represent themselves, and need the help of attorneys. At the same time, they recognize that the traditional adversarial legal system can be very expensive, often moves slowly, is open to the public, and often involves discord between the attorneys that can distance the two parties even further by magnifying disagreements and compounding conflict. Collaborative Divorce is designed to provide the benefits of attorney assistance while avoiding the negative atmosphere of litigation.
Each party is a vital part of the settlement team
The “opposing counsel” and “opposing party” are treated as vital parts of the settlement team, not adversaries. Attorney-counselor assistance is available for advice and information throughout the process. This may include additional assistance from child psychologists, advisers, accountants, therapists, actuaries, appraisers, and virtually anyone with special expertise to assist a party or provide information helpful to the negotiations. Power imbalances are equalized because each side has equal support and negotiations are conducted openly and informally with all participants present.
The team can focus on settlement without the imminent threat of “going to court”
In Collaborative Divorce a respectful, creative effort to meet the legitimate needs of both spouses replaces tactical bargaining backed by threats of litigation. The extreme “positions” typically expressed in court pleadings and hearings are not a part of Collaborative Divorce.
The client controls the proceedings
Judges decide the issues in a litigated divorce. And a judge simply cannot understand the complexities and nuances of a family’s situation after hearing the limited information presented in even a one or two day trial. In the Collaborative Divorce process, the resolution of the issues is in the clients’ hands, rather than a disinterested and often not very well-briefed third party (the judge). Additionally, the judge has limited tools with which to solve the issues. Often in litigation, the judge is unable to take into consideration a factor which is crucial to the long-term well being of the family. The collaborative process leaves the decision-making power with the participants, without constraining their creativity or the options they have to solve their own problems.