Collaborative Family Law

Sometimes clients and attorneys have very different ideas, at least initially, about the best approach to take in a particular case. For example, should a cooperative and friendly approach be taken or should an aggressive and more rigid approach be taken. Should you compromise as much as possible or are you creating a bigger “monster” by doing so. Each approach is called for in some circumstances, but whether to take one approach or the other can be difficult for the person involved in the case to objectively asses.

An attorney is guided not only by the law and rules, but also by a wide array of past experiences, past negotiations and by judges’ expectations of parties. Just as important, an attorney is out of the fray and able to see the situation from a distance that most parties do not have the benefit of. An attorney is guided by the issue at hand, and not distracted by the wrongs and hurts of a now broken personal relationship. For these reasons, an attorney can usually be far more constructive in her approach, and assist you in the same.

You will most likely have to deal with the other party for a very long time especially if you have children together. When the relationship ends, people can often use a little assistance learning how to form new habits in communicating and responding to the other party in a constructive way. Shortening that learning curve can serve you greatly in better navigating through your legal proceeding.

As detailed in other sections, judges are limited in what they can order, and why. Going to trial is an option, but formal litigation more expensive, requires time off of work, can be stressful, greatly limits your control over the outcome and often leads to unpredictable results no one is happy with. The parties, outside of a formal trial and if they are not too hostile with one another, can craft a more detailed, fitting and satisfactory plan based on mutual agreement.

Their agreement can include items and issues a judge would have no ability to order, allowing the parties to trade “irrelevant” favors which can greatly improve both parties’ satisfaction with the end result. But in order to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, to some degree the parties have to let go of their upset and hard feelings toward one another. It is ideal if the parties can tolerate being in the same room with one another and calmly communicate for prolonged periods of time to work through such an agreement.

Determining a comprehensive strategy and case plan, including how you will approach the other party, identifying what is most important both to yourself and the other party for negotiation purposes, and then following through consistently with that approach, is one of many important tasks an attorney can assist with. The other side will invest time and energy into settlement negotiations if they believe there will be follow through. They will not invest time and energy if they expect the conversation will blow up any minute. You may not feel like it, and you may not even see the ways you are being hostile and uncooperative with the other side, but you will meet your end goals better if you clearly define what your goals are and make sure you work toward them with every step you take, instead of reacting emotionally to the other person, regardless of what the other person says or does to upset you.

For more information, contact us at 503-585-0157 or sbaldwin@oneillbaldwin.com. We offer *FREE one-half hour consultations, and would be happy to discuss your case and answer your initial questions.

NOTICE: The above summary is meant for informational purposes and is not intended to be legal advice. It is meant merely as a broad overview of the rules applicable to the majority of cases, and does not diminish the need to consult with a professional regarding your specific circumstances.