FAQ: There is still so much hostility between my spouse and me since our separation. We haven’t talked in three months. Our only communication is by text about our children. I would like to try this, but I don’t see how it would work.

The guiding principle of Collaborative Practice is respect. This respectful tone encourages the parties to show compassion, understanding and cooperation. Our Collaborative Team of professionals is trained in non-confrontational negotiation and will help to keep discussions productive and focused on present concerns. A Divorce Coach is a member of the Collaborative Team and will work together with you and your spouse on building more respectful communication and redirect each of you from a position of blame to solutions and cooperation. The Collaborative Team also includes a Child Specialist to assist you in developing and maintaining healthier and supportive relationships for the wellbeing of your children. The goal of Collaborative Practice is to build a settlement resolution on areas of agreement; not to perpetuate disagreement and negative emotions; to promote and strengthen family functioning and relationships.

FAQ: I’ve been considering mediation as an alternative to court proceedings. Isn’t this the same thing?

Good question! It’s not the same. While both Mediation and Collaborative Practice are alternatives to the traditional court process, they are quite different.

In mediation, the parties meet with a neutral third party without their lawyers present. Their lawyers may coach them before and after each session so that they have the necessary legal knowledge and advice to make informed decisions in sessions. The Mediator is not an advocate for you or the other party, does not make decisions and does not provide legal advice. The mediator’s role is to facilitate discussion between you and the other party for the purpose of making certain that you each have a clear understanding and perspective of one another’s view of the issue, that you are clear about what is preventing a mutual resolution and to assist you in developing resolutions that consider the interests and needs of each of you. The written document that is produced by the Mediator is a Memorandum of Understanding that is not legally binding and cannot be enforced by the court. The lawyers, following the resolutions recorded in the Memorandum, create a legally enforceable agreement for the parties’ signature as well as prepare and process the documents needed to divorce. If resolutions are not reached in mediation, your lawyer can still represent you in any court proceedings.

In Collaborative Practice, you each have your own lawyer to advise and guide you throughout the process. Both lawyers facilitate discussion between the parties or among the parties and other members of the Collaborative Team who work on behalf of the parties for a common purpose – to find solutions that address the interests and needs of all parties and their family. Lawyers are present during negotiations, which may be helpful if you are unsure of what you should be discussing or feel uncertain in the presence of the other party or parties. The lawyers can also finalize all legal paperwork required to be filed with the court.

FAQ: I don’t have any knowledge about our finances and believe that the other party may be hiding information from me. Don’t I need the court to tell the other party to provide me all of our financial information?

Having all financial information is critical to making an informed decision and having an agreement that is going to be enforceable by the court. For this reason, all parties involved in the Collaborative Process must sign a Participation Agreement in which all parties and lawyers commit to a full disclosure of all information relevant to the issue. Your lawyer and other members of the Collaborative Team, in particular the Financial Specialist, have the expertise to assist you in identifying what information is relevant. If a party does not disclose the information, this may be a basis to terminate the Collaborative Process.

To schedule a confidential consultation and learn more, contact a professional in Collaborative Law Professionals of Southeastern Pennsylvania.