This blog post is from Natalie Gregg, a family law mediator and a collaboratively trained attorney, who focuses her practice on helping families transition through difficult times. Her philosophy is to provide dignity to her clients through helping parents and spouses protect their interests, while creatively facilitating the division of estates and the designing of parenting plans for families who want to co-parent.
“I’ll see you at the courthouse” and “talk to my lawyer” are powerful words, but often spoken in haste and in the vitriol of litigation. At a time when people are especially mindful of recession and joblessness, the last thing that anyone wants to do is shell out the fees for attorneys to rush to the courthouse for yet another contested hearing. Engaging in the endless cycle of litigation can be taxing not only on the pocketbook, but also on the soul.
In the kinder, gentler approach to resolving disputes about the future of a family, wouldn’t it be better for clients to be empowered to have input on every aspect of their divorces and child custody matters? Collaborative law offers such an alternative to families who want to maintain their dignity and respect the relationship that they had together. This process is driven by a desire to allow both parents to attend the future graduations, football games and weddings of their children whom they will co-parent.
Collaborative law has so many advantages: avoiding mud-slinging court battles and focusing on creating custom parenting plans, creatively solving the problems of complex estate division and, most importantly, maintaining the dignity of the clients and their children.
Collaborative law is gaining greater awareness as more and more couples uset it to successfully manage their divorces. It has even made it to the silver screen, with a mention in the critically-acclaimed movie Juno, where adoptive parents suggest it as a solution to their marital discord.
While collaborative law is not limited to divorce, it has made its foray into disputes over modifications of child support and custody, pre-marital agreements, and even suits affecting parent-child relationships. It is an invaluable process, driven by the needs of clients. Instead of standard access, guideline child support and 50/50 division of assets, the process addresses the interests of the clients rather than their entrenched positions. You won’t get the same cookie-cutter results of a judge, who may be having a bad day, or who may simply impose regimented orders on the clients – orders that don’t address all of the clients’ emotional, psychological and financial needs.
Conversely, collaborative law allows clients to craft, with a team of professionals, an order that is specific to their own lives.
Fundamentally, clients involved in family law matters should ask themselves: “Who would you like to decide the future of your family – you, or a judge?”