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Collaborative Law


Today, nearly half of all marriages end in divorce court. Unfortunately, our centuries old, adversarial justice system simply doesn't work for millions of Americans. And now, thanks to recent budget cuts in California, you can expect a minimum eighteen-month delay before your case will be heard by a judge. In matters concerning child support or child custody, this can be catastrophic. 

Anyone who has been involved in a messy divorce knows that traditional proceedings often become protracted, bloody, scorched-earth battles that devastate all those involved emotionally and financially. In fact, a full-blown divorce trial may take years of litigation and cost from $60,000 to $100,000; frequently more. In most cases, couples litigate for years until their estate as been completely drained. Then, when all the money is gone, when the children's college funds are empty and the retirement funds have been bled dry, the couple settles out of court. Oftentimes when a couple is able to settle a divorce case without ever stepping foot in court, they do so in the shadow of trial, under conditions of considerable tension and anxiety. 

Part of the problem is that the traditional divorce system treats the end of a marriage as a contest, in which the wife's lawyer and the husband's lawyer battle to obtain 'the biggest piece of the pie,' for each client, too often ignoring the financial and emotional costs of 'winning.'

Fortunately, there is a better, faster, more affordable way to end irretrievably broken marriages and other legal disputes. It's called collaborative law.

WHAT IS COLLABORATIVE LAW?

Collaborative law is an out-of-court legal process that allows each party to retain a specially trained lawyer whose job is to help them settle their dispute without court involvement. Collaborative law is a real success story.  Like divorce mediation, collaboration allows parties to resolve their disputes without trial. In collaborative law, however, the parties resolve disputes not with the help of a mediator or facilitator, but with the help of trained collaborative law attorneys.

Each party works with an attorney who acts as a counselor to that person alone. Collaborative attorneys are specifically trained in this unique team approach to dispute resolution. While most attorneys are trained to resolve conflicts through litigation, attorneys who've been trained in the collaborative process are taught to reach equitable compromise.

Bolstering collaborative law's commitment to compromise is its central premise: that neither side may go to court or even threaten to do so. If such an action or threat occurs, the process terminates and both lawyers are disqualified from any further involvement in the case.

Without litigation as an option, the parties and their attorneys have a strong incentive to work toward compromise. In fact, the knowledge that an agreement must be reached outside of court may also help the parties psychologically, by decreasing the degree of confrontation between them. Finally, because the attorneys do not have to prepare for trial, litigation costs are avoided, with the result that a case resolved through the collaborative process costs a fraction of one resolved the traditional way.

Collaborative law originated in Minnesota in 1990, and has since spread to more than a dozen other states, including California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Georgia.  Hundreds of lawyers practice collaboration as part of the "Conscious Uncoupling" movement. While it is used primarily as a tool in divorce cases, collaborative law is now being applied to other areas of law as well, including employment, probate and personal injury.

THE LAW COLLABORATIVE PROJECT

Our continuing commitment to help people handle their legal affairs simply, affordably, and equitably, means that we support new and innovative alternatives to litigation, such as collaborative law.

The Law Collaborative aims to:

  • Educate the public about collaborative law and its benefits;
  • Advocate reforms that foster the growth and expansion of collaborative law;
  • Educate legal professionals about the advantages of resolving disputes collaboratively;
  • Facilitate the training of lawyers to practice this unique process of dispute resolution;
  • Encourage outreach to non-attorney practitioners of collaborative approaches (such as family counselors and paralegals).

The Law Collaborative offers monthly workshops designed to educate the public about the collaborative process and other options for divorce. We offer continuing education to family law attorneys who want to add collaborative practice to their menu of services. We are committed to changing the way legal disputes are handled in California. 

If you would like to speak to a collaborative family law attorney in Los Angeles today, please call our office at (818) 348-6700. We are here to serve you.