Parties, especially in family law matters, often do not want to engage in the high-conflict model of litigation. Attorneys and mediators need to make them aware of a model referred to as collaborative practice. While it can take varied forms, it typically involves clients who retain attorneys with the specific direction that they are to work as a team, with each other and the parties, and any experts that may be brought in to assist, especially a family counselor or mental health person, for the sole purpose of achieving a mutually agreed solution.
Central to this method, is that each side is totally transparent with the other party with regards to sharing relevant information. Respect and cooperation is the order of the day. The parties recognize that their family unit is not being destroyed, but is being “reorganized” and they especially want this to be a healthy outcome for their children. The method of reaching is is often contingent, but not necessarily so, on attorneys’ agreement that they be disqualified from representing either party if the collaboration effort fails. The collaboration model does not mean that both sides “simply agree” to whatever the other party wants. There is room in this model for high assertiveness on both sides, but it is balanced with respect and cooperation on the other side.
My personal and professional goal is to expand the use of the collaborative model.