The Collaborative Approach is known as “the clients’ process.” The clients choose this approach when they desire to work out their differences face to face with their lawyers by their side. The clients are empowered to work together to find the best family-focused resolution to their unique problems arising from their separation.With full financial disclosure up front, and a mutual sharing of urgent and long-term goals and desires, the clients pool their viable options. They discuss the risks, advantages, and consequences with counsel to find a durable resolution. Putting the pieces together with trusted guidance, strategy, and legal advice means the job is done properly and with a solid solution everyone will be satisfied with.
Family Law Consultations
A client can have many reasons for seeking a consultation with a family law lawyer. A consultation may require only a single visit to obtain legal advice, or it may take a series of visits. Here are examples of some recent consultations:
- to understand a legal advice column from a newspaper or online chat room
- to receive feedback on a wish list compiled ahead of mediation where the client is unrepresented
- to understand the consequences of taking an action such as income splitting with an adult child or disposing of a second property before or during a divorce process
- to seek advice on how to move through a roadblock
- to meet a lawyer before retaining her
- to have a court order explained in plain language
- to understand the interplay and tax consequences for financial child support and spousal support
Independent Legal Advice
Independent legal advice (“ILA”) relates to a private conversation a client should have with his or her own personally retained lawyer about the nature and effect of entering into certain transactions or contracts.
Examples of when ILA must be offered to a client include:
- When an unrepresented person is involved in a legal matter such as the negotiation of a family law or domestic contract
- When a mediator prepares a contract outlining the terms of the domestic contract reached for the partners or spouses to sign
- When a conflict of interest arises, a lawyer has a duty to avoid the conflict by ceasing to act for a client. However, a client may, with informed consent as a result of receiving ILA, allow the lawyer to continue to act for him or her
Family law mediation is about solving family problems with the guidance of a skilled facilitator who helps the participants, also called disputants, come to a mutually agreeable resolution. The facilitator may be trained as a lawyer, social worker, or other professional and is someone the participants both trust to assist them.
Being impartial and independent means the facilitator cannot take sides with either participant in the dispute or provide any legal or other professional advice to either of them. The facilitator is tasked with guiding the participants to find their own customized resolution.
Best Suited Clients
The negotiated approach is also well suited to clients who may describe their circumstances as straightforward or complex, but who profess the shared desire not to proceed to court.
The family law lawyer will usually negotiate and draft a domestic contract for clients who are: