Collaborative Family Law
Collaborative family law is a non-adversarial dispute resolution process for couples seeking to separate or end their marriage. The parties, with their collaboratively trained attorneys and a team of collaboratively trained neutral professionals, work together to achieve a settlement that best fits the parties’ needs and those of their children rather than have a judge make decisions for them. The process is based on cooperation, not confrontation.
The process is initiated when the parties sign a contract in which they agree to participate in the collaborative process and forgo using their collaborative attorneys in any future family related litigation. The parties and their lawyers along with a divorce coach for each party, and where appropriate a neutral financial specialist or child specialist, have a series of meetings to facilitate a settlement that best meets the priorities, needs, and interests of both parties and their children.
In collaborative law, the parties are fully educated about the law and the consequences of various settlement choices available to them, and their lawyers facilitate the negotiations. Each party has access to all of the information necessary to make an informed decision. A party is not permitted to hide relevant information from the other party.
Collaborative law is a viable alternative to the traditional litigation process for family law matters. It is growing in popularity in Maryland and across the country, but it is not appropriate for all situations. In situations involving domestic violence, drug or alcohol addiction, or serious untreated mental illness, the collaborative law process may not be suitable.
Some advantages of using the collaborative law model are:
• The potential to reduce legal costs;
• Greater control over the outcome;
• Avoidance of the uncertain outcome of court; and
• A respectful end to a marriage.
Our partner, Dana McKee, is a trained collaborative family law attorney. She is a member of the Howard County Collaborative Professionals and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. Dana welcomes clients who are interested in exploring the viability of the collaborative law process for divorces and custody disputes.