Collaborative Law is an alternative resolution mechanism for disputes. This method of dispute resolution is often applied in the family law context; however, it has many applications in other areas of law such as commercial and general business litigation, as well as contract disputes. Collaborative Law encourages open, transparent, mature, and cooperative behavior between parties. The hallmark of the collaborative process is the parties’ pledge not to go to court and to work towards an agreed upon resolution. The parties and their attorneys enter into a Participation Agreement, which defines the environment in which the parties and their counsel commit to reach efficient and mutually agreeable settlements, without court intervention.
In general business settings, the product of the collaborative law process is a written agreement, release or other legally enforceable document that memorializes the terms of any agreement between the parties. The collaborative process is particularly useful for businesses that frequently work together and who would like to preserve an ongoing business relationship, without using the court system to seek a resolution –an adversarial process that may damage and ultimately end any meaningful business-to-business relationship.
In family law settings, the product of the collaborative law process is a Settlement Agreement and a Judgment of Divorce through an uncontested court hearing. In the traditional divorcing model, the children may be manipulated by the adversarial process. Collaborative Law avoids this traditional model.
Regardless of the setting in which the collaborative process is utilized, the Participation Agreement requires the parties exchange information and develop strategies to resolve their disputes. A key component of the collaborative model is its transparency, as to the sharing of documents and information.
In Collaborative Practice, the parties sign a participation agreement in which they contract to: