Find Lawyers in Boston, Massachusetts for Collaborative Law: Civil

Practice Area Overview

Collaborative Law is a voluntary dispute resolution process that often creates mutually agreeable outcomes without the need for litigation or unnecessary judicial decision-making. Couples agree to work together respectfully, honestly and in good faith in order to settle their case in a way that addresses their competing needs and shared interests. In many instances, collaborative settlements can resolve matters faster, with greater privacy and less cost, and can enable couples to resolve their issues without subjecting their children to the potentially damaging effects of courtroom litigation.

In the Collaborative Law process, both parties retain separate, specially trained lawyers to advocate for their interests. The divorcing parties may also choose to involve other professionals such as an estate planning attorney, accountant, forensic accountant, financial planner/wealth manager, therapist, communications coach, or child custody specialist. During this process, the parties may also enter mediation to resolve one or more issues.

The first step is the signing of an agreement by both parties and their attorneys which sets forth the nature and scope of the collaborative process, typically including:

  • Negotiating in good faith;
  • Acting respectfully toward one another;
  • Disclosing all relevant information to the other party;
  • Pledging not to go to court to settle disputes while in the collaborative process;
  • Employing jointly hired neutral experts when appropriate; and
  • Protecting the confidentiality of the collaborative proceedings.

Either party may stop the Collaborative Law process at any time; however, both attorneys are legally obligated to withdraw from the case, and cannot represent either party against the other if the case goes to litigation. This requirement protects the confidentiality of the collaborative meetings and also provides incentive and motivation to the couple and the participating lawyers for the process to succeed. In this way, all participants are equally invested in finding solutions to all the issues in the case and settling outside the traditional divorce process through the court system.

Stacy D. Phillips, CFLS
Founder and Managing Principal of Phillips Lerner, ALC.
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