For many people, not litigating, or going to court, is more beneficial than going to court. Collaborative Law is an ideal method of resolving property division, child and spousal support issues and child custody issues.
There are traditionally three methods of resolving these disputes. Traditional litigation is the most common, mediation is also available as a second option, and thirdly, collaborative law is a growing area of practice. As an introduction to collaborative law, we tell our clients to look at the three methods mentioned in this paragraph as a continuum, with litigation on the one end, where each party has their own lawyer and you go to court; mediation on the other end, where the two parties are in a “room” together with no lawyers and collaborative law, where you are represented by a lawyer, the lawyer is “in the room” but you agree in writing not to go to court or threaten to go to court. It is your choice as a party to choose which method to use.
Benefits of the Collaborative Process
- YOU HAVE THE SUPPORT OF HAVING A LAWYER IN THE ROOM WITH YOU, BUT YOU ARE IN TOTAL CONTROL OF THE RESULT. In mediation, you don’t have a lawyer with you in the room (in the mediation process, in our office). Some parties feel like they want the support of having a lawyer in the room, but they don’t want a Judge, who is a third party, deciding their future. Collaborative may be right for both parties in this circumstance.
- YOU AND THE OTHER PARTY CONTROL THE PACE OF THE PROCESS. In a litigation in court, the court controls the pace of the process. The court schedules the date and time of the hearing, often without consulting with the parties. In most cases, the pace of progress is slower in the courtroom situation. Courts tend to be backlogged today and cannot schedule matters promptly. In collaborative, the parties and the lawyers schedule the pace of the process. No one is forced to be in a mediation session on a date and time which was not arranged to and agreed to by you and the other party.
- THE PARTIES ENJOY COMPLETE CONFIDENTIALITY IN THE COLLABORATIVE PROCESS. In litigation, financial and other documents are filed with the Court. There is no confidentiality in the litigated divorce, custody or support matter. In the collaborative process, on the other hand, the parties contractually agree to not share or disclose documents to any person outside of the collaborative “room”. There are times when people have serious tax issues, criminal backgrounds, gambling or drug issues, and the like, which a party wishes to keep absolutely private and confidential.
- RECEIVING LEGAL ADVICE IN MEDIATION. The mediator in a mediation process does not represent either participant in the mediation. The mediator is neutral and cannot offer you advice as to what you should offer or expect in the mediation process. In the collaborative process, you have an attorney representing your interests and consulting with you confidentially as to what your legal rights and obligations are. Sometimes people are more comfortable with that arrangement.
COST OF THE PROCESS. Certainly, litigation is far more expensive than the collaborative process. This is a deciding factor in some participant’s minds.
About Lee A. Schwartz, Esquire
Lee A. Schwartz, Esquire is the owner of Peaceful Separation and Divorce in Philadelphia. He practices Collaborative Law and Mediation in the area of Family Law in the five-county Philadelphia area, with over thirty years of experience. Lee practices Collaborative Law and Mediates divorce, custody, support, alimony and division of property concerns and has been doing so for over twenty-five years. As part of his practice, Mr. Schwartz has been engaged by attorneys to arbitrate Custody related disputes for their clients.
He is also trained as a Parenting Coordinator and has been appointed as a Guardian Ad Litem and as a Parenting Coordinator by Judges in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County.
Collaborative Law is an important part of his career. He has represented clients in this mode of representation and finds his Collaborative Law Practice to be both extremely valuable for the parties, and rewarding and enjoyable for him.
His was President of the Nicholas Cipriani Family Law American Inn of Court, for a two year term ended, in 2013. The Inn is an organization of Family Law Judges and Lawyers, which meets monthly for dinner and continuing education. He also was honored to serve as Chair of the Family Law Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association in 2015, and is presently on it’s Executive Committee.
Currently, Lee presently again serves as the President of the Cipriani Inn of Court and will continue through the 2021 year.
Lee is also a member of the Family Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and a member of it’s Family Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution Committees.
Lee was humbled to receive the Herbert J. Weiman Sr. and Jr. Award, by the Family Law Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association in 2019. This is an award given to a Member of the Family Law Bar, for his lifetime of dedication to the Citizens of Philadelphia in the Family Law matters and for service to his fellow attorneys and the Philadelphia Bar.
He graduated the University of Bridgeport for his undergraduate degree, with Honors and received his J.D. from the Delaware Law School of Widener University (formerly Delaware Law School) in 1981.
Lee has five adult children and several grandchildren. When not working, Lee is an avid, though frustrated golfer, and sports fan. He loves spending time with his Family. His wife, Lois, is also a Family Lawyer. She practices in Cherry Hill.