The Collaborative Process
The emerging field of the collaborative process for resolving Family Law disputes marks a dramatic departure from the traditional adversarial model. Although the collaborative process is new for many attorneys, it has long been my deeply-held belief that a collaborative approach may be optimal for my client's entire family. Although not every case is appropriate for the collaborative process, at the Law Offices of Robert E. Marmor there are many situations in which I successfully use collaborative methods to achieve positive results for clients.
A Healthier Approach
While I am fully prepared to litigate on behalf of my clients when the situation warrants, in many cases my clients do not want to litigate. All too often, the adversarial approach inflames the division and strains that can exist when spouses separate. In the collaborative process, the parties first agree to resolve the issues in their divorce case peacefully, respectfully, and out of court. A team of trained collaborative professionals consisting of two collaborative attorneys, mental health professionals, and a financial neutral (and other neutral professionals as needed) comes together to help the parties reach an acceptable agreement.
The advantages of the collaborative process over the adversarial approach can include:
Reduced bitterness and stress
More control over the process and more predictable results
Focuses on the emotional well-being of the parties and their children
A team of financial, mental health and other specialists can be brought in to assist the parties and their children
The possibility of lower legal costs as compared to litigation
I am very involved in and committed to collaborative practice. I am a past president of Collaborative Council of the Redwood Empire. I work closely with other collaborative professionals in developing collaborative techniques and resources for use throughout our region. In October 2004, NorthBay Biz magazine published an article about the use of the collaborative process in the Sonoma-Marin-Napa area entitled "Can't We All Just Get Along?", which provides an excellent overview of the process as it is practiced in our area.
"The collaborative process typically begins with a divorcing couple's realization that they have ongoing shared priorities (number one: raising healthy kids) that are at least as important as the immediate dispute. "People who choose collaborative law over conventional litigation tend to be highly motivated to maintain effective relationships, solve problems jointly and prevent a court battle," says Robert Marmor, a Healdsburg family law attorney who turned to collaboration after more than 20 years of observing the wear and tear caused by litigation.
There is no official deposition process in collaborative law. "Spouses are often amazed to realize that the information-gathering process can proceed informally, with openness, candor and cooperation rather than secrecy, guardedness and threats," Marmor says. "But what gives the process its distinctive dynamic is the lawyers' agreement to withdraw if the collaborative process breaks down and to be replaced by new attorneys who will take the case to trial."
I have found the collaborative process to be a useful tool in resolving many types of family law matters. While not appropriate in every situation, it can offer valuable emotional and financial benefits for my clients and their children.