4 Reasons Collaborative Law is Better than Traditional Litigation

The decision to dissolve a marriage is one of the most life-changing and difficult realities that a lot of people face. Usually, when this decision is made, it is hard not to have high emotions attached as well. This high level of stress is only compounded by the impending traditional litigation proceedings that are sure to be long, arduous and expensive. Each side of the divorcees is armed with attorneys that usually are set on “taking down” the other and most divorce e trials are not scheduled to occur before a judge until well over one (1) year after the case is filed. This leads to a popular idea that collaborative law is better than traditional litigation.

Some couples may not realize that there are less invasive routes versus the traditional litigation option. When exploring options for contested divorces, the couple typically can choose from mediation, collaborative law, or traditional litigation.

It allows you to avoid litigation.

One of the main reasons that most divorcing couples may feel that collaborative law is better than traditional litigation, is that there are no court proceedings and judicial rulings, other than the final judgment. With cases that go to court, the judge makes the final ruling. Often times, the judge is only receiving biased accounts from each party and is required to follow evidentiary rules and procedures.

The outcome is often times to the detriment of the divorcing couple. When a couple is married, there is emotion attached to the partnership. In a litigious case with a judge presiding, the emotional aspect is ignored. Only basic facts are permissible and considered by the judge.

Collaborative Law allows for these emotions to be addressed and understood with the focus being toward reaching an agreement that best suits the best interest of the couple involved.

Your lawyer is 100% committed to settling your case.

The lawyer is not trying to decide between settling the case and trying the case and preparing for both. They have more of a focus on you and your needs, and will spend their efforts in that area.  This is another reason why people are thinking that collaborative law is better than traditional litigation. The lawyers involved in collaborative law cases are working towards a mutual resolution between the divorcing couple. When lawyers are distracted by trying to research case law and evidence to build a case to present to a judge, it takes away from the motivation of trying to work together and reach a resolution.

In collaborative law, each lawyer representing a spouse must sign a “participation agreement”, which states that neither lawyer can take the case to trial. If a resolution is not reached, then both lawyers must be disqualified from the case and new counsel be retained. This requirement is another key difference between collaborative law and traditional litigation.

Traditionally in a courtroom, each spouse presents their side of the case before a judge with their hired attorneys. Sometimes with the division of assets and to determine alimony, etc. a real estate appraiser or other experts will be retained. This can oftentimes be a costly addition to the already growing legal fees, and usually each spouse hires separate experts for a trial.

In collaborative law, a team of professionals are agreed upon to help the couple with various aspects. This can include, financial advisers, appraisers, mental health counselors, and child specialists in the event that children are involved. With the utilization of an entire agreed upon team to help and guide the couple, this approach can be  less expensive and more conducive to a smoother transitional period for the divorcing parties.

Nothing communicated will be later used against you in court.

Everything that is said in a courtroom is dictated and recorded. This may not seem important, but the words that are said in a court of law immediately become public record. Emotions have a tendency to run high in a divorce case. Personal events that should remain between spouses are suddenly on display for anyone to access. These recorded events and comments could easily be taken out of context, especially when the main goal of the opposing counsel is to advocate for their client typically by any means necessary. Suddenly, an old argument that seemed minuscule in a private moment becomes a case against your character in a public setting.

The principles of collaborative law are better than traditional litigation in this aspect since the communication in this type of setting is confidential. Most documents that are created and exchanged to help a collaborative law case are provided to both parties and most records are only to be available to parties immediately involved in the case. Knowing that words and actions are being presented  in a confidential setting with the intention of having a favorable outcome for both sides, communication is more open and honest.

More structured than mediation

Mediation is another alternative to a traditional litigation option. In mediation, a neutral third party is selected to listen to both parties and to help encourage compromise and facilitate a resolution of their dispute. Mediators cannot give legal advice to the couple. This is a more casual setting versus a courtroom, as the people involved include the mediator, the couple, and their attorneys, if any. Mediation sessions can last several hours, depending on the issues that the couple must resolve. The goal of mediation is to help both parties negotiate and compromise their individual positions in order to reach a resolution. In collaborative law, there is much more focus and discussion about the specific goals of each spouse, as well as the needs of the family.

The divorce process is a long and daunting one that many people face. Luckily, in the state of Florida, traditional divorce litigation is not your only option. Legislators have realized that there shouldn’t be a “one-size-fits-all” approach to divorce cases. The availability of collaborative law has been a great benefit to many and as time goes on, we will see more people choose this alternative. For more information about collaborative law, please visit www.collaborativepracticeflorida.com.

Patricia Sciarrino, Esquire is trained in collaborative law. To learn if collaborative law might be the right choice for you in your family dispute, please contact the law office of Patricia Sciarrino, P.A. at (772) 463-8017 to schedule your initial consultation.

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