The Attorney’s Role in Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative Divorce is a client driven, family centered way to get divorced.  It is a team approach with each party having a lawyer as well as other team members to support the family through the process.  However, in the collaborative divorce, the lawyers work together to keep the clients out of court and to help them reach unique solutions that work for their family situations.  They also help the clients manage costs.

The lawyers role in a collaborative divorce is to advise the client about their legal rights and options, take care of all the legal paperwork and write up legal agreements. However, in a collaborative divorce the client is always the decision maker. The lawyer can give options, help brainstorm ideas and help the clients look at the pros and cons of various possible solutions, but the clients make the ultimate decisions.

In court, the lawyers are advocates for their clients who are seen as adversaries.  In Collaborative Divorce the lawyers still advocate for their clients, but the other client is not seen as an adversary, but as a continuing part of a family that is being restructured. Care is given in approaching issues so as to preserve ongoing family relationships.  Collaborative attorneys recognize the parents have to co-parent and need to be able to get along, to be present at events, and still present a unified front to their children.

Once all of the decisions have been made, the lawyers write up the Agreements in a Marital Settlement Agreement. The lawyers make sure the Agreements are clear and presented in the correct format for the court.

Collaborative Attorneys have additional training in this approach and have a different mind set in approaching a Collaborative Divorce.  Its about providing information and support to the client and assisting them in making decisions that work for themselves and the rest of the family.  Be sure your Collaborative Attorney has had the appropriate training and is a member of a local Collaborative Practice Group.

Visit the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego for listing of Collaborative Professionals in the San Diego area.

Shawn Skillin, APC

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