Karen Covy, a divorce lawyer in Chicago, answers:
Unless you live in a small community where very few lawyers have been trained in collaborative practice, both you and your spouse must use lawyers who have been collaboratively trained. Otherwise, your chances of success in using the collaborative process are greatly diminished.
In collaborative law, you, your spouse, and the other collaborative team members sign a contract at the beginning of the process in which you agree to fully disclose your financial information. You also agree to cooperate with each other and agree that whatever happens in the collaborative process will remain confidential. If your spouse hires a lawyer who is not collaboratively trained and will not sign this type of contract at the beginning of the case (most traditional lawyers will not sign this contract), then you have no guarantee of confidentiality, cooperation, or full disclosure.
These days, more people are asking lawyers to use collaborative law. Unfortunately, some lawyers who have never bothered to take the time or spend the money to become trained in collaborative law try to position themselves as “collaborative” lawyers. The result is that clients may hire them expecting to use the collaborative process to get divorced, yet end up litigating their case anyway. Don’t let yourself be fooled!
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.