What is Collaborative Law?

Collaborative Family Law is an approach to settlement of your family law matter in which you and your spouse or partner are each represented by Attorneys whose express goal is to help you settle your family law matter out of court. In this process:

  • You, your spouse, and your Attorneys commit to settling your case without court or the threat of going to court.
  • The goal is to balance the needs of both of you for the future well-being of you and your family.
  • The Attorneys must assist you to settle your case or withdraw from your case.
  • Communications Coaches, a Child Specialist, and Financial Professionals can help you to reach agreements.

"Collaboration: Do You Really Want A Knight in Shining Armor As Your Attorney?"

Hired guns, knights in shining armor, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." These words conjure up images of combat and often frame our way of approaching conflicts or disagreements. And this mind set has long been an element of our legal system, a system in which attorneys are trained to litigate and advocate, to go to war for their clients. As the high cost of this approach has become clear there has been increasing interest in Alternative Dispute Resolution. Read the entire article by Trish Nugent and Moss Henry.

Collaboration: Do You Really Want A Knight in Shining Armor As Your Attorney? Collaboration: Do You Really Want A Knight in Shining Armor As Your Attorney? (42 KB)

The Benefits of Collaborative Family Law:

  • Each of you has an experienced Family Law Attorney as your advocate with you during negotiations.
  • Your spouse or partner and his or her Attorney, and other Collaborative Professionals, are treated as part of your settlement team, not as adversaries.
  • Communications Coaches may be used to prepare you for more effective negotiations, saving you time and money and increasing your chances of long-term improved communication.
  • Collaborative Family Law is significantly less expensive than court.
  • You and the other parent will negotiate parenting issues in a way that protects your children from the dispute, and you will have the assistance of a Child Specialist from the start.
  • You will provide for your children's emotional needs throughout the process.
  • You can voice your concerns and needs while maintaining a civil relationship with your spouse or partner.
  • You will help your kids by:
    • Showing them you are handling the divorce without needing them to take sides, be messengers, or be your main emotional support.
    • Learning what your own children need to support them in this stressful transition.
  • You will help yourself by:
    • Getting the facts, support and tools you need to make major decisions.
    • Making clear arrangements for handling the practical details of everyday life.

Which Family Disputes can be resolved with Collaborative Family Law?

Divorce Mediation and
Collaborative Family Law
aim to balance the needs of
both of you for the
future well-being
of you and your family.
  • Separation and Divorce
  • Child Custody and Visitation
  • Spousal and Child Support
  • Division of Property
  • Non-Marital Relationship Break-up
  • Domestic Partnership Dissolution

Outline of the Process:

Summary of Process (PDF) Summary of Process (PDF) (18 KB)

  • Orientation
    • Meet with Trish Nugent to discuss the process, costs, and appropriateness of this method for your circumstances.
  • Foundation Building / Information Gathering
    • Collect and organize asset and debt information.
    • Identify and address any "hot button" issues and learn skills to reduce conflict.
    • Assess all family members' needs, wishes, strengths, and challenges to prepare for productive negotiation.
    • Discuss and choose professional team members.
  • Develop Options
    • Work with all professionals on the team to build a range of options and understand the pros and cons of each one.
  • Negotiating Agreements
    • Make carefully considered long-term agreements that are realistic and honor all family members.

How can I get started on a Collaborative Family Law case?

You will meet with me to discuss your case and the details of the Collaborative Family Law process in your situation, including how to use other team members to have successful outcomes for your whole family.

You will then talk with your spouse or partner about Collaborative Family Law. Then the other party will also need to choose an Attorney committed to the Collaborative Family Law process. He or she may also call my office for referrals.

How much will Collaborative Family Law cost?

I charge by the hour for my Collaborative Family Law work. Coaches and other Collaborative Professionals are paid at their individual hourly rates. This is efficient because each professional is working with you in his or her area of expertise. Because you and your spouse will be members of a team, figuring out the best way to pay for the process will be a joint effort.

Which is better for me - Mediation or Collaborative Law?

There are different advantages to each process. Some examples are:

  • Mediation is more informal and less costly.
  • A Collaborative setting has a larger support team.
  • Mediation can incorporate referrals to Family Counselors, Financial Advisors, Business and Property Appraisers.
  • A Collaborative Process includes a Communications Specialist, and can include a Child Specialist and Financial Professionals as team members.
  • A neutral Attorney assists you in mediation and you may also have your own Attorney advising you or attending meetings.
  • In a Collaborative Process you have your own Attorney who represents you in all the negotiations.

What is a Collaborative Coach?

Collaborative Coaches are licensed Mental Health Professionals who work with both of you to defuse tensions and to improve your ability to communicate about important issues.

What is a Child Specialist?

A Child Specialist is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who helps your children express their concerns and provides information that can help both parents identify and plan for the children's needs.

What is a Financial Professional?

A Financial Professional provides financial guidance, planning, support, and budgeting throughout the collaborative process and helps evaluate settlement scenarios. A Financial Professional may also be a Business Appraiser, Vocational Evaluator, or Mortgage Broker all of whom are trained.

Isn't Collaborative Law a lot more expensive than mediation or even court with all these team members?

The Collaborative Process is generally more expensive than mediation and less expensive than court. You can discuss all of the options with Trish Nugent. If the Collaborative Process is the right one for you, the added financial, emotional and communications support from a full team will bring the best longterm results—saving your family significantly in both financial and emotional expense.