Each partner or spouse chooses a collaborative lawyer who has had special training so that they know how to do this, because it doesn’t come naturally to lawyers to work this way. And everybody signs an agreement — the lawyers and the clients — an agreement that nobody will take any matters to court, or even threaten to go to court, as long as the collaborative process is working for everyone. If the process should break down — which happens in roughly five to ten percent of cases, not very many, but sometimes — you and your partner can take your issues to court and have a judge resolve them if you prefer to, but the lawyers cannot go to court with you. So the lawyers are hired to work solely to work toward a settlement, solely to help you work toward a settlement that works for you.
Pauline H. Tesler is a Certified Family Law Specialist with Tesler, Sandmann & Fishman in San Francisco and Mill Valley, CA. She is also a pioneer in Collaborative Divorce and devotes her practice exclusively to the collaborative model. Tesler is a co-founder of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the author of two books on Collaborative Divorce. She can be reached at (415) 383-5671.