When an individual first learns about the Collaborative Process, their initial perception of this alternative to litigation is that it must be more expensive. The reason for that perception has to do with the number of professionals involved in the process. A Collaborative Team includes four professionals: each participant’s attorney, a neutral facilitator, and a financial neutral. Naturally, without more explanation, it is easy to assume that the more professionals involved, the more expensive the process would be. However, the purpose of this piece is to shed light on why that is not the case.
In traditional litigation, couples going through a divorce are either already at odds with one another or become increasingly adversarial throughout their case. This is because traditional litigation is adversarial by nature. Meaning, that when each spouse proceeds with hiring their attorney, they are likely to initiate litigation, not a conversation. Litigation often means engaging in the standard procedures involving the court, which include filing motions, setting hearings, posturing by email, and engaging in never-ending document requests. This results in a high accumulation of attorney’s fees. But that is not all—if the financial circumstances of the case require it, this procedural roundabout often leads to the inclusion of other professionals, such as a forensic accountant. The takeaway from this scenario is the following: in an adversarial setting, such as litigation, it is unlikely that one spouse alone will have a forensic accountant while the other does not. Courts prefer the parties to be even footed. Parties also prefer not to be disadvantaged. For that reason, a family going through a divorce will not only be paying for two attorneys but also two forensic accountants. It is this “tit-for-tat” dynamic that instigates more litigation and as a result, more costs.
"The Collaborative Process is equipped to avoid not only procedural shortcomings
associated with litigation, but also the time-consuming and adversarial aspects
that lead traditional litigation to be more costly in the long run."
In the Collaborative Process, yes there are four professionals involved from the beginning. Their involvement, however, is what helps streamline the process, making it efficient, even more so when compared to litigation. It is no secret that divorces are highly emotional proceedings; That is true of most family law cases, even those not involving divorce. When emotions are high, the rationale is low, which leads to miscommunications and conflict; The same conflict that often lends itself to instigate litigation. But in the collaborative process, there is a neutral facilitator meant to manage the participants and lower the temperature when discussions get heated. The neutral facilitator’s skill set allows them to manage a situation in such a way that altercations are resolved swiftly if not bypassed altogether. Similarly, the financial neutral’s role serves as an objective voice of reason when it relates to the participant’s finances and the equitable distribution of their assets and liabilities. Rather than each spouse assembling their own, respective forensic accountant in traditional litigation—participants in the collaborative process are guided by one neutral and objective financial assessment that is meant to assist them in reaching a mutually beneficial resolution rather than litigate from their own respective vantage points.
The existence of these two neutral professionals (a Facilitator & a Financial Neutral) facilitates resolution, prevents and/or minimizes conflict, all the while assisting the team to reach reasonable resolutions sooner rather than later. For those reasons, the collaborative process is equipped to avoid not only the procedural shortcomings associated with litigation but also the time-consuming and adversarial aspects that lead traditional litigation to be more costly in the long run.
If you are interested in learning more about the collaborative process and whether it is the right legal route for you to take, contact our office to schedule an appointment.