I have been an advocate of the collaborative method of resolving divorces ever since I practiced in Florida. As a graduate of a law school (Ohio State) that has a top dispute resolution program, I developed a keen awareness that litigation is not always the best way to resolve a dispute – especially a divorce.
The biggest problem I have found in trying to establish a collaborative practice is that the stars must align just right for a collaborative divorce to be possible. First of all, you must have the right attorneys on both sides of the dispute. That means you must have two attorneys that are both trained in collaborative law, and are willing to sign a collaborative agreement – which says that in the event either party files a civil lawsuit, both attorneys must withdraw from representing their clients. Most attorneys, even those that say they practice collaborative law, either haven’t taken the training in the collaborative process or are unwilling to sign a collaborative agreement.
The second biggest problem is educating the clients about the collaborative process. It is so drastically different than what they may be used to or have experience with, that they simply won’t try it. Little do they know that they would be far better off (emotionally and financially), if they would be willing to try a collaborative divorce.
The final problem I have found with the collaborative process is that there are a lot of attorneys that don’t believe in it. They poison the water for the rest of us attorneys that do believe in this process. And once one spouse has hired an attorney that doesn’t believe in collaborative law – you can pretty much kiss any chance at engaging in the collaborative process good-bye.
My recommendation to you if you are interested in a collaborative divorce? Talk to your spouse about it now, before you hire attorneys. If it is something that you are both interested in, contact a collaborative attorney (like me) or get a list of other attorneys that would be willing to engage in a collaborative divorce. Get started on the right foot.