Common Objections to Collaborative Law
There are a number of common objections to Collaborative Law. Here are the most common objections to Collaborative Law and responses to those objections.
My ex is not collaborative!
Just because it is called “Collaborative Law” does not guarantee it will be easy. However, having your ex work with a Collaborative attorney will most likely make the case go smoother than if he or she works with a traditional attorney in the traditional litigation process. One of the jobs of the Collaborative attorney is to make sure that both participants behave fairly and negotiate reasonably as part of the Collaborative process. Another possibility is for one or both people to work with a divorce coach who can help improve communication.
If your ex tends to be difficult, the litigation process typically magnifies that difficulty. The Collaborative process, on the other hand, creates a structure to help deal with the challenges that usually come up in the divorce process.
Collaborative Law seems really expensive.
Collaborative Law tends to cost far less than a traditional litigated case, particularly litigated cases that go all the way through trial. Collaborative Law typically costs more than mediation. However, if people cannot effectively mediate, then they waste time and money in mediation before moving on to another process. Perhaps the reason why Collaborative seems expensive is because the Collaborative team is transparent about costs up front! No one really talks about the cost of a litigated case, yet most people dive into litigation. If most people had a realistic understanding of the costs of litigation they would likely opt for a different process. One way to control costs in the Collaborative process is to limit the number of professionals involved or to identify a budget in advance for additional professionals (e.g. “we have $500 for a divorce coach”).
I don’t want so many professionals involved in my life.
You don’t have to! You can have as many or as few members of the Collaborative team as you want to. Further, the professionals can be involved as much or as little as you find useful. A basic Collaborative team consists of two clients and two attorneys. If that is enough support to work through your case, great!
Will my spouse use this process to hide assets?
Often times people are suspicious of a spouse concealing assets; the vast majority of the time those concerns are unfounded. The reality is that someone who is bent on hiding an asset will do so in any process, not just Collaborative. What’s helpful about Collaborative is that the other Collaborative attorney has an obligation to the team to help insure that everything is disclosed and that all relevant information comes to the table. If the Collaborative attorney has concern that something is not being disclosed, the attorney must work with the client to disclose the information or, alternatively, terminate the Collaborative process. Collaborative attorneys take this responsibility very seriously.
What if we can’t reach an agreement? I’m concerned about having to hire a new attorney.
Most Collaborative cases resolve successfully. However, if you cannot reach agreement on all points, then you may have to move to the traditional process and hire a new litigation attorney. Clearly this provides a financial disincentive to terminating the Collaborative process. However, it also provides a significant benefit. If you do have to proceed to litigation, you know that you will never be questioned or cross-examined by the other Collaborative attorney (with whom you have likely shared your thoughts and concerns). Further, because Collaborative is a confidential process, the discussions that take place in the Collaborative meetings cannot be brought up in a later court proceeding.
Usually if a case does not fully resolve, you have at least resolved most of the issues and typically just have one or two remaining issues. You can agree to keep the agreements you have already made and just litigate the remaining issue(s). Another option is to bring an arbitrator into the Collaborative process who can make a decision for you without having to proceed to litigation.