Collaborative divorce is one way of resolving a divorce case without going to court, and the primary way of doing so knowing from the beginning that the case will conclude without contested court proceedings. In the collaborative process, the parties and attorneys agree at the beginning of the divorce case to refrain from resorting to court motions and trials throughout the entire proceeding. Where there are disputed issues, the parties negotiate and, as necessary, proceed with alternate dispute resolution, such as mediation, to reach an amicable conclusion to the divorce case. Collaborative divorce is part of Gerald O. Williams’ practice. For more information on collaborative divorce, this link will launch the Collaborative Law Institute.
What happens if we cannot agree on issues in a collaborative case?
It is not necessary to be free of disputes in order to remain a collaborative case. If there are disputed issues that cannot be resolved among the parties and their attorneys, then the attorneys can arrange for the dispute to be resolved in an ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) forum. For example, the parties and attorneys may agree to submit a child custody dispute to an arbitrator; or to submit a financial dispute to a Consensual Special Magistrate. The reason that disputed issues are handled in an ADR forum instead of family court is twofold. One, the collaborative law agreement would require the parties to get new attorneys if they went to court. Two, alternative dispute resolution is designed to provide a forum that is more efficient and less conflict-ridden than traditional courtroom litigation.
What happens if I decide I want to go to court?
The Collaborative Law Agreement requires that you terminate your relationship with your collaborative attorney and hire different counsel to pursue relief in court.