Absolutely. Collaborative lawyers are trained in communication strategies that help clients articulate what is most important to them. Moreover, collaborative lawyers recommend bringing mental health professionals into the process to serve as “coaches” so that communication is more respectful and positive during settlement conferences and to keep intense emotions from thwarting the settlement process.
What happens if one side is dishonest in some way, abusing the Collaborative process to gain an unfair advantage?
This could happen. (It also can and does happen in conventional legal representation.) What is different about Collaborative Law is that the collaborative participators agreement requires the lawyer to withdraw if the client is continually dishonest or abusive. For instance, if documents are altered or withheld, or if a client is deliberately delaying matters for economic or other gain, the lawyers have promised in advance that they will withdraw, discontinuing representation of the client.
Many lawyers say they settle most of their cases. How is Collaborative Law different from cases settled the usual way?
Most conventional family law matters are settled “on the courthouse steps”, at least figuratively. By that time, much emotional damage has occurred and financial resources have been drained. The process is largely driven by intimidation and fear. In contrast, the Collaborative Law process facilitates respectful problem solving. It is almost always quicker, less costly, more individualized, and less stressful than litigation.