Karen Covy, a divorce lawyer in Chicago, answers:
Collaborative practice works by using a non-litigated team approach to resolving problems. Each collaborative professional works within his or her own area of expertise, making the collaborative process much more efficient, and often much less expensive, than traditional litigation.
The focus of collaborative law is much different than litigation. In collaborative law, both parties focus on crafting a settlement agreement that, to the greatest extent possible, meets each party’s needs as well as the needs of their children. In litigation, on the other hand, each party typically focuses on getting the most for him or herself, often at the expense of the other party and the children.
In collaborative law, you, your spouse, and the appropriate team members sit down at a conference room table and work through your divorce issues one by one. Not every team member needs to be present for every meeting. You and your spouse both actively participate in the collaborative process.
Collaborative law is a much more holistic approach to divorce, but it does not always work. If one party refuses to cooperate, refuses to provide complete financial information, or simply becomes unreasonable, then collaborative law, like any other alternative dispute resolution process, may fail. If it does, then the parties must go to court to resolve their case.
Karen Covy is a lawyer, mediator, educator and the author of When Happily Ever After Ends: How to Survive Your Divorce Emotionally, Financially, and Legally.