David Kowalski is a member of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Wisconsin. He also serves on the drafting committee working to pass the Uniform Collaborative Law Act in Wisconsin. The CFLCW, and the practice of Collaborative Law in general, is designed to reduce the financial and emotional toll of divorce on spouses and children. Collaborative Law requires working with a specially-trained divorce lawyer to assist you with the process.
There are four principles of the collaborative process:
- Both spouses sign a binding agreement not to litigate disputes in court.
- If either spouse chooses to litigate, both spouses’ lawyers must withdraw from representation. Each spouse must then retain a new lawyer.
- Full and cooperative exchange of information.
- Both spouses and lawyers negotiate to reach a resolution accounting for the spouses’ and children’s needs and wishes.
In the collaborative process, the spouses will jointly retain “coaches” or advisors to assist with resolution of child-related issues, child support, spousal support/maintenance, asset valuation and division, debt allocation, etc. Commonly-used “coaches” are accountants, business evaluators, therapists, counselors and investment agents. The coaches work with the spouses and lawyers to negotiate a respectful and fair outcome for the family.
Information is freely exchanged and lawyers and spouses do not engage in accusations or threats. The collaborative lawyer will frame negotiations in terms of interests and options rather than demands. This concept is designed to keep the process respectful and ensure that the concerns and voices of spouses and children are heard.
Collaborative Law does not work for everyone. However, in the right circumstances, it is a very successful method to decrease attorney’s fees and ensure a respectful and fair process. Please contact us to discuss whether Collaborative Divorce is right for you.