Couples in New York have many options with regard to how they get a divorce. One of these options, a collaborative divorce, is an alternative to litigation and allows parties to arrive at terms without going to court.
The collaborative law process has its origins in Minnesota where family law attorneys in the 1990s favored an approach to divorce that was more reasonable, courteous and direct. Many of the collaborative law organizations are focused on how collaborative law can be applied to family law issues. However, there is also a growing use of collaborative law in settling disputes in business and employment dealings.
In order for the collaborative divorce process to work, all parties have to be committed to achieving a resolution and addressing all of the divorce-related disputes reasonably and constructively. A written agreement pledging commitment to the process has to be signed by the spouses, who promise to provide full disclosure for all matters and make the best effort to negotiate a solution.
The attorneys of the spouses also have to exhibit their commitment to the process by promising to remove themselves from the case if either client forgoes the collaborative process in order to obtain a divorce through litigation. This means that if one or both of the spouses prefer to engage in litigation after all, they will have to obtain different attorneys.
The negotiation process is conducted in a neutral environment, typically in a conference room or an office. The objective of both spouses and the attorneys should be to use an open discussion format to achieve mutually agreeable results.
An attorney who practices collaborative law may advise clients seeking a divorce on how the process may be used to obtain favorable settlement terms. The attorney may work to protect the client’s rights during the negotiation process.