Your divorce can be settled, without nasty litigation, by attorneys like Natasha D. Mayne, who are trained in collaborative family law. The focus and basis of collaborative family law and mediation is to make resolving disputes as non-adversarial as possible; to bring a sense of fairness and control to the process. Non-adversarial family law seeks to reach an agreement over the issues involved in a family law case without going to court, using a negotiation process rather than an adversarial process whenever possible. In both collaborative law and cooperative law cases the parties attempt to reach agreement working with each other and with the advice and participation of their respective lawyers. The parties and their attorneys also can utilize an independent mediator if desired to help them achieve an agreement and resolve their differences through mediation. What unites all three processes is the desire to resolve all the family law issues by agreement, rather than by the judge after a trial.
In a collaborative law case the parties each retain their own independent attorney. Each individual and their attorney decide if they want to try resolving their issues using collaborative law. If so, the parties meet with their respective attorneys to discuss whether they want to enter into a collaborative law participation agreement. At the initial meeting of both parties and their lawyers, the parties and attorneys outline what they view as the major issues and discuss what decisions need to be made, whether they may need other professionals, and what documents they need to review in order to reach a resolution. Once the parties have met, each attorney and his or her client decide whether they want to enter into a formal collaborative law participation agreement.
The formal participation agreement contains guidelines, including the use of neutral experts, civility to each other, and cooperation in producing necessary documents. They agree to work together in good faith. If they need an accountant, psychologist, or other professional, they may choose one at this stage. They may also agree to minimize any discussion of the action with the children of the parties. The participation agreement also states that if either party seeks court intervention to resolve their issues, both parties must get new attorneys to represent them.
One misconception about collaborative law is that once a person agrees to attempt to use the process they then are required to enter into a collaborative law agreement prior to or at the initial meeting. This is not the case. The parties can meet to discuss their concerns and issues. If either attorney or client believes that the differences are such that they need to resolve some issues prior to entering into a participation agreement, there is no requirement that they sign the collaborative law participation agreement at the first meeting.
In the mediation process a certified family law mediator works with both parties to assist in providing a resolution. Mediators may be used to help resolve one or more of the issues by attorneys using both the collaborative process or the cooperative process or they may try to resolve issues without either party having an attorney. However, although the mediator may be an attorney, the mediator may not give legal advice or represent the interests of either party.
The decision whether to utilize collaborative family law, a certified family law mediator, or to proceed directly to litigation is a decision that is made by each individual after consultation with their selected attorney, and on a case by case basis.
NATASHA D. MAYNE IS A TRAINED COLLABORATIVE FAMILY LAWYER AND FLORIDA SUPREME COURT CERTIFIED FAMILY LAW MEDIATOR.