One of the things we emphasize most in explaining Collaborative Law is that it’s different from the traditional divorce process, which utilizes litigation. Here are some of what we call “process descriptors,” which help establish the difference between litigation and Collaboration.
* Parties in disputes often feel intimidated, fearful, anxious, powerless, out gunned, and not in control.
* The process is often focused on assigning blame or fault for problems.
* The results can be unpredictable and impersonal.
* The results may be ones that you do not want or agree with.
* Parties can feel unsafe – as they are subject to cross examination, subpoenas and depositions.
* The proceedings are public.
* The court and the other may determine your schedule for meeting.
* It is a filtered process – the information exchanged can be subject to discovery rules and lawyer/party discretion. Parties in litigation often negotiate indirectly through lawyers.
* Much time, money and energy can be spent getting ready for a trial that most likely will never occur. 90% of cases settle, but 90% of legal fees are not spent on settlement efforts.
* Legal expenses are not all within your control. The other side can force you to spend money on depositions, discovery and hearings that you do not want.
In Collaboration, however:
* The process affirmatively seeks to make both parties feel safe, respected, in control of their lives and as comfortable as possible while working towards resolution.
* The process is focused on reaching solutions to problems.
* The results are predictable and personalized.
* There will be no result without your express agreement.
* The atmosphere is civil, dignified, and respectful — and, overall, safer than the atmosphere in litigation.
* The proceedings are private and confidential.
* Scheduling for meetings is done by agreement.
* The process is transparent – the same information is available to all parties and attorneys at same time. The parties develop options and negotiate for resolution in joint meetings with their attorneys.
* 100% of all time, money and creative energy is spent on settlement efforts – there are fewer wasted financial, emotional and mental resources when compared to the litigation process.
* Legal expenses are discussed and agreed upon, thereby meaning legal resources and expenses are more efficiently used.
There’s one more important distinction between litigation and Collaboration — you can’t just “try” litigation, whereas you can try Collaboration. If Collaboration does not work, a resolution can be sought in court via litigation. But once you enter the litigation process, you leave your fate up to the court. In Collaboration, you work toward negotiation with the other party, and your fate remains in your hands for as long as you remain engaged in the Collaborative process.
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