Collaborative family law is an alternative type of resolution process for people who are divorcing or dealing with other family law issues. With this type of family law, the parties in a case work to achieve a solution together, with the help of lawyers and often psychiatrists and financial advisors. When parties opt for the collaborative family law process, they work to achieve solutions to family law matters without going into court. The process is meant to be less adversarial than other types of family law dispute-resolution processes. The goal is usually to come to an agreement that is in the best interest of those involved, including any children.
Lawyers are usually involved in the collaborative family law process. Their purpose in this case is not usually to defend their clients against the other party or litigate. Instead, their roles are usually to offer legal advice, advocate for their clients, and assist with the creation of agreements. Each party in a collaborative case usually has his own lawyer. Lawyers can be helpful for assisting the parties with figuring out child custody and visitation matters as well as such money issues as child support, alimony, and the splitting of marital assets.
In many cases, a professional mental health counselor is also involved in the collaborative law process. This can be important when it comes to creating realistic solutions to disputes that are emotionally charged. In such a case, a mental health counselor may help the parties involved deal with the range of emotions they experience in healthy and constructive ways. The counselor may help each party view the situation realistically, develop better coping skills, and communicate with each other more effectively. This may prove important when the parties in a family law dispute are hoping to remain friends later.
Sometimes financial advisors are involved in a collaborative family law process as well. They may be helpful as a couple decides how to split marital assets, helping to ensure each spouse enjoys the most benefit out of the assets he or she keeps. In many cases, a financial advisor helps parties decide how to handle their assets to provide the maximum financial benefit for the future. For example, if a divorcing couple has retirement accounts and other investments, a financial advisor may help the couple make financially sound decisions for dealing with them. A financial advisor may even help a couple decide how to file their last tax return as a married couple.