The Attorney's Role In The Collaborative Family Law Process

In the collaborative family law process, the attorney is not a neutral party. The collaborative attorney's role is as a resource, an educator, counsel for his or her client and protector of the collaborative family law process.

The collaborative attorney must do the usual determination, identification and investigation of the issues surrounding the situation common in all divorce cases. The attorney must also anticipate conflict, manage the process, help identify the goals of the parties, and ensure that the client is aware of his or her legal rights and obligations.

Roles And Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities can generally be summarized as follows (this information comes from a presentation at the annual conference of the Academy of Family Mediators):

  • Advise on the applicable law and identify all issues and concerns
  • Exhibit and promote mutual respect, dignified behavior and honesty throughout the process
  • Guide you through the cooperative conflict process (this generally turns disagreement into a constructive way to reach creative solutions to your problems)
  • Spend time getting to know you and ensure respectful communication
  • Use conflict resolution skills in emotionally charged situations
  • Cooperate to provide necessary information in an organized manner
  • Respect the choices you make even if they differ from what is available under the law
  • Use clear and neutral language to communicate
  • Refrain from adversarial techniques typical in divorce litigation
  • Commit to identifying effective ways to help you reach an agreement and overcome impasses by using mediation and neutral experts

The role of attorneys is also to provide reassurance that they are trying to help you solve your issues by ensuring that you have all of the information you need to make decisions. Working in a coordinated manner with a team, they are invested in helping you reach solutions.

What Is Really Important?

Collaborative family attorneys are able to help you keep what is really important top of mind. They know how Ohio and federal law apply in a divorce. They can also help with the legal terms and concepts, make suggestions that you might not have considered on your own, and offer tools that help you communicate better with your former spouse.

The collaborative family law process began because lawyers were tired of seeing spouses argue over pots and pans and furniture — as though they were worth thousands of dollars and spending as much in the litigation process. A goal of the attorneys in the collaborative family law process is giving the parties the tools needed to better keep the peace between them after the process has been completed. This focus is also to minimize the effect on children so they don't suffer negative effects for the remainder of their lives. Collaborative family attorneys help you keep that perspective.

With your collaboratively trained attorneys, though not easy, it is easier to come to an agreement knowing that your interests and goals are kept in mind. You will also know that while you both have attorneys, everyone is working toward a common goal — an agreement on the terms for the termination of the marriage — which is a difficult thing. And it should not have to be done in an adversarial process such as litigation in court.

Talk With A Collaborative Attorney

Nothing replaces a consultation with an attorney where you can discuss your unique concerns. To set up this meeting, please send us an online message.