In a collaborative-law divorce, the parties and their divorce attorneys agree to negotiate in good faith and engage in complete voluntary disclosure. Through a series of four-way meetings, the parties work together with their divorce lawyers to achieve the best settlement possible for the parties. Issues such as child and spousal support, property agreements, and custody and parenting plans are resolved during such settlement conferences. Instead of preparing for court and conducting extensive and expensive discovery (e.g., depositions and subpoenas), the parties with their attorneys focus on how to best end their relationship and begin anew. When appropriate, the parties are assisted by mental-health and financial professionals.
Collaborative law differs from divorce mediation because in the collaborative process, the parties and their lawyers engage directly in the settlement negotiations. In traditional divorce mediation, the divorcing couple reaches their own agreements in mediated sessions, settling such issues as child custody, parenting plans, child support, spousal support (alimony), and the division of retirement benefits and other property. The mediator facilitates the discussion, keeps certain ground rules in place, and provides legal information and suggestions. Once an agreement is reached, if the parties have retained counsel, the parties review the agreement with their attorneys.
Collaborative family law and mediation are both excellent alternatives to in-court litigation.
Pauline Rosen is a divorce attorney and the founder of the Law and Mediation Offices of Pauline Rosen, located in the South Bay (Los Angeles), providing compelling, competent advocacy with compassionate client-centered legal services, including family law, collaborative law, and mediation. She is the recipient of the American Jurisprudence Award in Ethics, Counseling and Negotiation and in Criminal Procedure and is listed in Who’s Who (1999).