The Collaborative Law process provides an alternative to litigation for parties seeking to resolve issues related to their separation and divorce. It is a non-adversarial approach where the process is focused on minimizing conflict and resolving matters through settlement. The goal is for the parties to negotiate and finalize a written separation agreement which resolves all the issues and forms the basis for the filing of a simple no-fault divorce, alleviating the need for parties to have to go to court. The collaborative process is so focused on settlement that any attorney on the collaborative team cannot later represent their clients in any future litigation should the collaborative process fail to produce a settlement. The collaborative process can be applied to all issues related to separation and divorce, including and especially on matters of child custody, parenting plans and division of property.
The collaborative process begins with each party retaining their separate attorneys. Attorneys must be specially trained in the collaborative process. Once the respective attorneys are chosen, additional team members may be brought on, namely a neutral financial professional who will work with the parties to analyze their marital estate and options for dividing the estate for purposes of equitable distribution and support. Mental health professionals may also be brought onto the team, as needed, to act as coaches to help with communication issues and to assist the parties in resolving child custody impasses and developing parenting plans. High conflict situations may require the need more than one coach to support the parties. The goal of every collaborative team is to create a safe, respectful and supportive forum within which the parties can negotiate a resolution for their divorce that will be a positive and healthy foundation for moving forward with their lives post-divorce, especially when children are involved.
The collaborative team will work with the parties through a series of meetings with the clients and the required professional. The process is much more transparent than in customary divorce matter in that legal issues and advice are discussed in the presence of both parties and their respective attorneys. The collaborative divorce process is based on conflict-resolution, respect and cooperation to reach a settlement that is best for all parties involved.
The collaborative process in Virginia is regulated by the Uniform Collaborative Law Act (UCLA) that was adopted by the Virginia General Assembly in 2021 and became effective July 1, 2021.
As only specially trained attorneys can represent parties in the collaborative divorce process it is important for you to ensure you are speaking to the right lawyer. Christine Mougin-Boal at The Marquis Law Group is trained in the collaborative divorce process and is able to assist you in these matters.