Guiding Maine Families Through Collaborative Divorce
There is a relatively new method of resolving disputes that is generating some “buzz” in the state of Maine. Called “collaborative law,” it is already practiced here, and in other states and in other places around the world. Collaborative law is not reserved exclusively for divorce cases, but many practitioners feel that the process of collaborative law is often beneficial to the participants in a divorce. Collaborative law can also be used in contract disputes, employee/employer disputes, and any other type of dispute where both parties have a vested interest in staying out of the litigation process.
Starting With The Basics
Collaborative law can be boiled down to a few basic concepts. At the bottom is a contractual agreement where the lawyers and the parties promise to cooperate with each other in trying to resolve their differences. Further, the collaborative lawyers will withdraw if either party wants to proceed with litigation. That is, both parties who enter into the collaborative dispute resolution process will have to find different lawyers if that process is not successful, for whatever reason. This gives everybody a vested interest in working through the difficult times.
In the process, the parties contract with each other to make every reasonable effort to settle their case without court intervention. They agree to give full, prompt, honest and open disclosure of all information pertinent to their case, whether requested or not, and in a timely manner. The parties agree to engage in informal discussions and conferences with the goal of settling all issues.
The collaborative law process can involve other professionals, as well as the parties and their attorneys. Sometimes, the parties retain a mediator. By definition, a mediator is a “neutral.” The unique aspect about the collaborative law process, however, is that the parties often choose to jointly retain other “neutral” professionals, such as accountants, career counselors, mental health professionals, etc. This is vastly different from the typical litigation process, where each party hires its own experts and other professionals.
Why People Choose Collaborative Divorce
The advantages of collaborative divorce over a court fight should be obvious. The stress will be much less for all concerned, and the parties are meant to come out of the process retaining their self-respect and respect for each other. The idea is to arrive at a solution that everyone respects. It is our personal experience that cases that settle are much less likely to return to court in the future. If the parties can share experts and other professionals, they should both save on expenses. Any experienced lawyer will also tell you that it is far less stressful, time-consuming and expensive in general to settle a case with a counterpart with whom you can work collaboratively, than it is to litigate in the traditional manner.
Contact Our Office To Learn More
Mr. Brown has attended interdisciplinary training for collaborative divorce (and collaborative law generally), and he is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. He is also a founding member of the Maine Collaborative Law Alliance. Please ask us about the collaborative process if you are interested. Contact our firm online or call 207-622-6900.