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Why is the Collaborative process better than traditional adversarial litigation?

Traditional litigation is adversarial.
Traditional litigation focuses on presenting the other party in the worst possible light at any cost. Traditional lawyers present to a judge facts helpful to their client and seek to disrupt the opponent's presentation of his or her facts in whatever way possible. Often this means discovering unflattering views of the opposing party and highlighting that viewpoint with testimony or other damaging evidence. Testimony often includes the observations of neighbors, friends, former friends, ex-spouses, grown or young children, business associates and others, which damages those relationships, too. It always includes an exploration of taxation and financial records such as those generated by credit cards, investment accounts and banks. It often times involves reviewing records of cell phone calls and text messages. If the couple has minor children one parent often seeks to involve the child's teacher or counselor. Many parents seek to have the other parent evaluated by a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist or other expert who will then present his or her findings and opinions to the judge. This investigation often involves an exploration of past mental health or medical history. Experts tend to dig as deeply as possible in order to find as much as possible no matter how relevant the material. The inquiry can expand to extended family such as the children's grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc., as the lawyers seek to leave no detail behind. These persons feel caught in the middle too. The experts testify about the other parent's living arrangements, housing, lifestyle and other behavior. This investigation is very expensive. The result is enough to make any person wonder how they could have once loved their soon to be former partner.

At the same time each traditional lawyer seeks to present a complimentary set of facts about his or her client. Traditional adversarial lawyers raise objections to their opponent's efforts to learn about or to prove things to a judge. They will seek to minimize anything perceived as helpful to the opponent. For example they may claim some documents are privileged, not relevant at all, or that the documents are so relevant that they are legally prejudicial. They may refuse to turn over documents until forced to do so by the judge. The judge has authority to sort all this out, but doing so often requires judges to make decisions based on narrow interpretations of technical rules of law. The process can be expensive and very time consuming and is always frustrating to the clients.

The parties are left broke and broken by all this work and significant expenses are wasted. Many feel their voice was not fully heard. Some feel they were not heard at all because they never spoke or because no one but their lawyer listened to them. The adversarial process, by its very nature, requires you to give up control to a judge who decides for you what will happen in some of the most important parts of your life.

The Collaborative Process is better because it is shared decision making.
The Collaborative Process transcends the old fashioned adversarial approach. As a participant in the Collaborative Process you work with a team of professionals to create a satisfying and lasting peace. The professional team is specially trained in this new multi-disciplinary approach. The team is flexible and able to expand as needed to draw on professionals from the fields of social work, finance, psychology, investment planning, child development, faith-based counseling and many others in order to help you determine what is best for you, your children and your former partner. Together as an integrated team they seek to generate, expand and explore all options. Professionals help you evaluate each set of options and understand the consequences of your choices. In this way you can make the best and most informed choices possible.

Collaborative professionals pledge to use all their energy and efforts to resolve your dispute. No effort is wasted on preparation for litigation. You are assured your lawyers are solution focused. All professionals, both lawyers and both participants put this commitment in writing before they even start work. When they work, they do so as an integrated team. If they are unable to reach a resolution Collaborative Professionals may not continue to represent the participants in any additional or extended capacity. This means Collaborative lawyers cannot revert to traditional lawyer roles and continue to represent their client in any adversarial process. They agree with you at the outset to either solve your problem or to work themselves out of a job attempting to solve it.
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