Is collaborative law just mediation in disguise? We recently ran across that provocative question in an article from Lexology, authored by the Potomac, Maryland-based law firm Shulman Rogers.
They do make the point that both alternatives to litigation have some qualities in common. Specifically, they note, “Indeed, both focus on information gathering, goal identification, and option development before solution. Both use interest based approaches, and focus on client self-determination as a guiding principle. Both provide confidentiality and the flexibility to include other professionals within the process. And both rely heavily on active listening, reframing, and emotional acknowledgements.”
But they also understand that there are some key differences between the two routes for getting to divorce without putting the decision in the hands of a judge. The qualities that separate them, as they detail in the article, include:
* An explicit contract provision requiring full disclosure, which the lawyers themselves oversee
* A restriction on simultaneous litigation while the collaborative case is in process
* A specific step in which a collaboratively-trained mental health professional is identified and, with the couple’s okay, included in the team helping the couple reach a divorce settlement, and
* The potential inclusion of other team members; namely, a financial professional who helps the team with matters pertaining to assets and debts.
While mediation is a tool that some divorcing couples have utilized to successfully arrive at settlements, collaborative law has a number of important facets — protecting assets, children, and the post-divorce relationships between parents — that simply don’t exist in mediation or litigation. If you’re interested in knowing more about collaborative law and how it can help you get to a better divorce in Texas, we recommend this handy guide to Collaborative Law Institute of Texas members. These are professionals who are not only trained in collaborative law, but are also part of a professional, statewide network that provides training and resources for professionals who are committed to making collaborative law part of their individual practices.
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