Divorce Without Disaster - A Closer Look at Collaborative Law

This is the fifth post of a serialization of Janet P. Brumley's book, Divorce Without Disaster. This post is Chapter 1, part 3 of the book.

The core principle of collaborative law is that each attorney and each party to the divorce pledges to sit down across from each other in the same room and pursue settlement of the case in the most cooperative way possible, without guns, venom or a roadmap to disaster. They vow to keep talking until they reach settlement, and to stay out of court at all cost.

It took an unassuming Minnesota family attorney named Stuart Webb to create collaborative law. Back in 1990, he became disenchanted with the outcomes he was seeing and announced that he no longer would take a divorce into the courtroom. To his competitors, Webb's move was unilateral disarmament. Clients wondered at first if this was a serious way to approach a divorce. To Webb, it was just the natural next step in a process that was heading into alternate methods of dispute resolution.

Collaborative law divorces are becoming commonplace in a growing number of states as more attorneys seek collaborative law training and the word spreads about the benefits of this process.

"My estimate is that collaborative law is alive and well in 30 states and six Canadian provinces," says Webb. "There are about 3,500 collaborative lawyers, and more are going through the training each day."

But it's impossible, he contends, to specify the number of divorces being done collaboratively in North America. Not all collaborative lawyers have been as closely tied to this method as he is. Some handle a collaborative law case one day, mediation the next. And some still litigate divorces in a small number of cases.

- Janet P. Brumley

Prior posts:

Divorce Without Disaster - Collaborative Law - About the Author
Divorce Without Disaster - Collaborative Law - Introduction
Divorce Without Disaster - What Is Collaborative Law and Why Use It?
Divorce Without Disaster - Choices of How to End the Marriage

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