Divorce is never a pleasant experience. Nobody looks forward to getting divorced, and nobody enjoys haggling over the legal issues.
Today, couples have an alternative to mediation as well as to litigation. At Martin Family Law Firm, we are pleased to offer Collaborative Practice in addition to mediation as an alternative to the traditional adversarial litigation process.
What is Collaborative Practice?
Collaborative Practice, also commonly known as collaboration or collaborative law, is similar to mediation. As an alternative to litigation it does not rely on an adversarial approach to problem solving. Like mediation, collaboration is a confidential and voluntary process for identifying, discussing, and resolving the legal issues that a couple faces when they are divorcing. Unlike mediation, however, each party has his or her own attorney accompanying him or her to all collaborative meetings where legal issues are discussed.
Collaborative Attorneys are specially trained to work together as co-mediators. They help each party identify his or her concerns and issues, and help each of them articulate those issues in a way that is non-threatening and allows discussion rather than argument.
Ideally, each participant in a collaborative process also has his or her own communication coach. These coaches are licensed therapists who are well versed in the collaborative process. Coaching in this context is aimed at helping each party develop strategies to present his or her ideas, objectives, and concerns during the Collaborative meetings so that s/he is heard and understood. Coaching is useful for developing effective strategies to manage reactivity to the other party. Coaching in this context is not general therapy. It is an adjunct process to help each participant in Collaboration to identify what he or she wants to achieve in the divorce, both individually and for the children.
Our Firm's Commitment
At Martin Family Law Firm, Mr. Martin often serves as a Collaborative Attorney. He is not only an experienced and seasons family law attorney, he is also a highly trained Collaborative Counsel with more than fifteen years experience in the Collaborative Process. He was one of the founders of the local Collaborative Practice Group, and was one of its first presidents. He still serves on the Executie Committee. Prior to that, he was one of the members of the original Bay Area Collaborative Practice Group centered in San Francisco.
In the collaborative process, much of the work on legal issues is done during collaborative meetings. At a minimum these meetings are attended by the two people who are getting divorced accompanied by their independent collaborative attorneys. Other professionals who might attend could include jointly retained financial specialists, appraisers, accountants, and child specialists, as well as the parties' communication coaches.
During these meetings, the couple discuss the legal issues they face and, with the assistance of their Collaborative Counsel and their professional "team," they can reach a settlement that each of them finds reasonable and that each of them can accept as balanced and fair. Such settlements are highly durable because the people most affected have a direct hand in creating the solution. People are generally willing to be bound by their own agreement whereas they might resent, and unconsciously attempt to sabotage, a decision imposed on them by a court in the course of litigation.
As Collaborative Counsel, Mr. Martin helps his clients to articulate the reasons that a suggestion might work and might be acceptable to both parties. He also assists the other party in hearing his client's concerns and viewpoints. In between collaborative meetings he confers with his client as well as with his collaborative attorney counterpart and the parties' communication coaches to be sure that the process proceeds smoothly.
At Martin Family Law Firm we do not charge for calls inquiring about mediation or collaboration.