Role of Attorneys in the Collaborative Process

Each party should have a collaboratively-trained attorney. They work together and collaboratively to achieve an outcome which meets the needs of both parties and achieve their goals in resolving their disputes.

Each attorney begins with listening to their client and asking questions to determine what is most important and necessary for their individual client in resolving the issues by agreement. The attorney is then able to assist the client by helping them find their voice in expressing their needs and interests in meetings and written communication. Each attorney also educates their own client regarding legal issues such as child support, maintenance, division of assets, and the concept of fair and equitable agreements. As openness and disclosure is a hallmark of the collaborative process, the attorney assists their client in making open, honest and full disclosures and in making respectful requests of the other party if more information is needed. Each attorney meets privately with their own client to answer questions, provide advice, correct misperceptions, and diffuse conflict. In addition, the attorney assists the client to understand the needs and interests of the other party.

Collaboratively trained attorneys refrain from taking adversarial positions or using adversarial language. They assure meetings are safe spaces which allow for an open, respectful exchange of ideas. The attorneys work together to identify what experts might be useful in a particular matter. By working collaboratively and helping their clients to work together, they help the parties set the stage to resolve differences in the future.

Once the parties come to a settlement, the attorneys draft an agreement consistent with legal protections to minimize disagreements in the future. Each party is able to confer privately with their attorney before signing the agreement. The attorneys also draft the paperwork required to be submitted to the Court to obtain a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.