What is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative Family Law (CFL) is the sailing ship on which we may board with the assurance that we will face our imminent death, and, with resolve, discover our new life. CFL demands that we face the problems in our life wholeheartedly and honestly. CFL will test your resolve, and if you are resolute, it will reward you with a new life, a new beginning.
Where once we screamed with swords held high, now we set our shields aside. Where once we listened with our earmuffs on and spoke words of strife, now we listen (actively) and calmly speak. CFL tells us that it is within us to change our lives, to take responsibility for ourselves, to relegate our family and friends and the lawyers and accountants and psychologists and everybody else to the supporting roles in the story of our life.
What is Collaborative Family Law? Collaborative Family Law is best represented in the words of Stuart Webb, the man who coined the movement in the 1990s Minneapolis:
“…a dignified, effective, and highly strategic solution to one of life’s most difficult and emotionally charged situations…It’s called the Collaborative method of divorce, and simply put, it means that you, your spouse, and both of your lawyers [and other specialists as you call upon] agree to focus your efforts on civilly dissolving your marriage and dividing your assets, with no intention of ever going to court…Stressing cooperation over confrontation and resolution over revenge, the smart divorce is both highly strategic and beneficial in that: It gives the couple greater control over the outcome of their divorce; resolution is generally less expensive and quicker than going to court; it benefits the children by keeping them out of the controversy; and it helps the couple to maintain a sense of integrity and respect, which is often a priority when children are involved.” 1
At the centre of Collaborative Law is the knowledge that we all have the capacity to change and learn and work collaboratively toward our shared goals. Inside all of us, a bundle of needs and interests, hopes and dreams, fears and the courage to overcome them. These underlying interests are the foundation for why we do what we do and who we see ourselves to be. They’re the basis for why we turn left when we could turn right and the reason we say “I love you” when we could say “It’s over”. With the knowledge of these interests, comes the power to effect collaborative solutions.
I am a Collaborative Family Lawyer, and with the support of my friends and family, my partner and my colleagues, I am helping people find a better way. This is my story. What story do you want to tell?
1 Webb, S.G., & Ousky, R.D. (2007). The Collaborative Way to Divorce. New York, NY: Plume.