THE
HOFFMAN
FIRM, P.S.C.

98 Garvey Avenue, Elsmere Kentucky 41018
(859) 342-9029

Collaborative Law:
Dissolution of Marriage with Dignity and Respect

Northern Kentucky Collaborative
Law Group, Inc.

A non-profit organization

Couples facing the ending of their marriages face many challenges. These many challenges especially exist in families with children. Parents must make very important decisions that may have significant impact in the future. There are many concerns that these parents must address. Collaborative Family Law provides a positive forum in which to deal with these decisions and concerns without resorting to litigation. Collaborative Family Law establishes an open and cooperative environment, for the parties and their attorneys to work toward a complete settlement that benefits everyone throughout an effective and efficient process.

What is collaborative family law?

90 to 95 percent of all legal actions eventually settle out of court before trial. Many reach settlement only after years of financially and emotionally draining adversarial negotiation and trial preparation. Collaborative law - the practice of settling cases without court intervention - provides an alternative. By encouraging mature, cooperative and non-combative behavior and agreeing to avoid litigation, an environment is created where both parties and counsel are committed to reaching an efficient, mutually agreeable settlement - out of the court room. Collaborative family law focuses on resolving divorce issues. It is practiced by specially trained, experienced family lawyers who, when handling a collaborative law case, devote all of their efforts to reaching a settlement without court involvement.

How does collaborative family law work?

As in traditional divorce cases, your lawyer supports you, and your spouse's lawyer supports your spouse. But in collaborative family law, both lawyers must also practice collaborative law. Before the process begins, all of you - lawyers and clients - formally contract to work together to resolve your divorce issues. Both lawyers pledge not to take the case to court.

To reach a settlement using collaborative law, the lawyers initiate four-way meetings between themselves and their clients. The meetings promote improved communication and cooperation and nourish an environment that fosters analysis and reasoning. This helps generate options and creates a positive context for settlement while giving both parties control over the outcome. The commitment to continued cooperation - even if communication becomes difficult - also increases the likelihood of a solution where everybody wins.

Who practices collaborative family law?

A lawyer who practices collaborative family law is specially trained and has practiced law for at least three years. During that time, the lawyer has focused on family law.

Lawyers practicing collaborative family law commit to the process as well as its outcome. They receive special training and education that encourages mature, co-operative and non-combative behavior. They treat both parties as participants in the settlement team. And they formally pledge not to take the case to court.

Lawyers who practice collaborative law protect the privacy and dignity of all involved in the process. They uphold standards of integrity and, if inconsistencies and miscalculations occur, seek to correct them.

Collaborative law attorneys expend as much effort working toward settlement of your case as they would to prepare for a trial. You and the attorneys will provide complete, honest and open disclosure of all information with documentation and any required oaths. Usually, however, this will be done informally. If an impasse arises, they may suggest that you bring in a neutral third party such as a mediator.

What if you can't reach a settlement?

In collaborative law, your lawyers' continued employment depends on the ability to design acceptable settlement options. That means if the collaborative law process proves unsuccessful or either party wants litigation, both lawyers must withdraw from the case. They will then help their clients find trial lawyers and will work to make a quick, efficient transition.

What are the benefits of collaborative family law?

Collaborative family law focuses on all involved parties reaching a mutually agreed upon settlement of their disputes. The process results in valuable benefits.

It creates a cooperative environment where communication remains open, which provides a setting where you can work with your spouse to meet your children's needs, regardless of their ages. That helps to set a tone for open communication and reduced conflict for the future.

It establishes a team versus that of adversaries. Your lawyer supports you; your spouse's lawyer supports your spouse. But you all work together and, in doing so, retain control of the process.

In matters requiring expert opinions, both parties can jointly hire one independent consultant. That helps shorten the duration of the process and reduce overall expense.

You and your spouse shape the agreements together. This means that you both are more likely to keep the agreements. This will diminish the parental conflict that the adversarial system generates, and helps protect children from facing the anguish of divided loyalties and result.

You can schedule meetings without waiting for court dates. This means that you generally spend less time and, as a result, less money to reach closure. It also means you reduce the fear and anxiety associated with the unknown court proceedings.

Your issues stay within the collaborative law setting. This gives you more privacy, greater confidentiality and less stress during an already stressful time.

How can you participate in collaborative family law?

You may contact M. Gayle Hoffman who is a member of the Northern Kentucky Collaborative Lawyers Group.

For more information on the Northern Kentucky Collaborative Family Law Group, please click here.

Note: This article is from a brochure produced by the Northern Kentucky Collaborative Family Lawyers.



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I serve the areas of Boone County, Campbell County, Gallatin County, Grant County and Kenton County, Kentucky and practice in Family Courts, Circuit Courts and District Courts regularly.

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