The collaborative law process is relatively new and combines elements of both mediation and litigation to reach what is essentially a mediated divorce, without the expense and burden of court involvement, until the divorce hearing. The collaborative process is designed as a structured, supportive alternative to litigation that encourages cooperation and mutual respect, not conflict or coercion. Where there are minor children the collaborative process helps parents limit the children’s exposure to the conflict associated with divorce. Attorney Minkoff has received training in Collaborative Law and has worked successfully with other collaborative attorneys and professionals.
Each party works with his or her own collaboratively-trained attorney, both individually and in the collaborative meetings. The parties and attorneys all sign an agreement that they will not go to court until an agreement has been reached; in fact, if the process breaks down and one or both parties decide to litigate, the agreement states that they will begin the litigation process anew with different attorneys. This is to create an atmosphere free of coercion and, hopefully, will provide both parties incentive to continue with the collaborative process.
In many cases, the parties and attorneys agree to work with a “coach,” a collaboratively-trained mental health professional who meets regularly with the parties and attorneys during the collaborative process. The coach’s job is to help the parties and attorneys stay on schedule and keep to the written agenda for each meeting, as well as monitor the participants’ behaviors to ensure that the meetings are run efficiently and respectfully. In addition to a coach, other neutrals who may become part of the collaborative “team” are financial professionals to help guide the parties and attorneys on matters such as asset division and support, and child development specialists who can offer guidance about child custody and parenting time. All of these neutrals are collaboratively trained to work harmoniously with the parties and attorneys to achieve the desired result; however, none are required for a successful collaborative divorce. Please call or email to learn more about our family law services.