Is that really how collaborative law works?
Your husband is only partially correct. The collaborative approach can help keep your legal fees from skyrocketing out of control, as so often happens in litigated cases, but not because you only need one divorce attorney. Ethical considerations prohibit one attorney from representing two parties who are on opposite sides in a lawsuit, which is what a divorce case is. So you each will need to retain your own separate collaborative counsel, should you choose to go the collaborative way.
However, by choosing to have a Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse will benefit from collaboratively trained attorneys as well as other collaboratively trained professionals, such as neutral financial advisors, neutral child specialists, and divorce coaches. All of these professionals commit themselves to helping you reach a settlement that takes into account the best interests of your family with the least amount of damage to it. Each collaborative professional provides specialized benefits to you as needed, and all sign the collaborative “Participation Agreement”, which prohibits any of the professionals from representing you in a court case, should you or your spouse decide to terminate the collaborative process.
Because collaborative practice is an open and transparent process, but one in which the information gathered is confidential and not subject to “discovery”, the participants do not have to worry that any information revealed during the process can be used against him or her should either spouse elect to litigate. The “safety” of the collaborative process usually results in a comprehensive settlement agreement that you and your spouse determine; this would not be possible in a “traditional” divorce that relies on the decisions of lawyers and judges, instead of you, the people whose lives are most affected by the final settlement. And finally, when talking about ways to save by choosing collaborative practice, do not forget the emotional benefits you will receive from the lessening of tensions of a non-adversarial divorce.
Sandra M Rosenbloom concentrates on Mediation and Collaborative Family Law at her Northfield, IL office.