Collaborative Practice, including Collaborative Law and interdisciplinary Collaborative Divorce, is an alternative path for resolving disputes with dignity and respect outside of the courtroom. With your attorney as a guide and adviser, you are able to navigate through a dispute – whether a family matter such as divorce, a probate matter, or a commercial lease – in a manner which is more likely to result in a mutually agreeable resolution and perhaps preserve or even strengthen the relationships of the people or businesses involved.

Trained professionals are available to provide insight and analysis in a neutral manner and help reduce expenses. Though most common in Washington in the family law setting, the Collaborative model is well suited to resolving disputes where continuing relationships exist after the conflict has been resolved, such as probate matters and business disputes.

The term incorporates all of the models developed since Minnesota lawyer Stu Webb created Collaborative Law ideas in the 1980s.

The heart of Collaborative Practice and Collaborative Divorce is to offer people the support, protection, and guidance of your own lawyer without the fear and antagonism of going to court.

When resolving a dispute collaboratively, the parties negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement without having the court decide issues; they maintain open communication and information sharing and create shared solutions which acknowledge the highest priorities of each person. The Participation Agreement, which governs each individual matter, is a contract signed by each person committing to three key elements:

  1. The voluntary and free exchange of information.
  2. The pledge not to litigate (go to court) and withdrawal of both attorneys and other team professionals if either party litigates.
  3. A commitment to respect for both parties’ shared goals.

Jennifer C. Gogert is a Collaborative Professional practicing in family law and civil issues; a member of IACP, North Sound Collaborative Law and King County Collaborative Law, she is committed to helping her clients through difficult times while maintaining respect for self and others. For more information visit collaborativepractice.com.

Download your free Collaborative Divorce Knowledge Kit and discover if the collaborative model is right for you. This kit answers many of the common questions about Collaborative Practice.

Watch this ‘Today Show’ clip that reviews the collaborative law process from both the clients’ point of view as well as the attorneys’: