Principles & Guidelines for the
Practice of Collaborative Law
(The parties to a Collaborative Divorce are asked to adopt the following)
The essence of “Collaborative Law” is the shared belief by participants that it is in their best interests and those of their families to commit themselves to avoiding divorce litigation.
This conflict resolution process, which does not rely on a Court-imposed resolution, but relies on an atmosphere of honesty, cooperation, integrity and professionalism, is geared toward the immediate and future well-being of the family.
The specific goals are to minimize, if not eliminate, the negative economic, social and emotional consequences of protracted divorce litigation to the participants and their families.
The participants themselves commit to the Collaborative Law process and agree to seek a better way to resolve our differences justly and equitably.
II. NO COURT OR OTHER INTERVENTION
The participants commit themselves to settling their divorce case without court intervention.
The parties agree to give full, honest and open disclosure of all information, whether requested or not.
The parties agree to engage in informal discussions and conferences to settle all issues.
The parties agree to direct all attorneys, accountants, therapists, appraisers and other consultants to work in a cooperative effort to resolve issues without resort to litigation or any other external decision making process except as agreed upon.
III. PARTICIPATION WITH INTEGRITY
The parties pledge to work to protect the privacy, respect and dignity of all involved, including parties, attorneys and consultants.
The parties pledge to maintain a high standard of integrity and specifically not to take advantage of each other or of the miscalculations or inadvertent mistakes of others, but shall identify and correct them.
IV. EXPERTS AND CONSULTANTS
If experts are needed, they are retained jointly unless all parties and their attorneys agree otherwise in writing.
V. CHILDREN’S ISSUES
In resolving issues about sharing the enjoyment of and responsibility for their children, the parties, attorneys and therapists shall make every effort to reach amicable solutions that promote the children’s best interests.
The parties agree to act quickly to mediate and resolve differences related to the children to promote a caring, loving and involved relationship between the children and both parents.
The parties agree not to seek a custody evaluation while the matter is a Collaborative law case.
The parties agree to insulate their children from involvement in their disputes.
The parties agree to attend the Parent Education course offered by the Court.
VI. NEGOTIATION IN GOOD FAITH
The parties acknowledge that each of their attorneys is independent from the other attorneys in the Rocky Mountain Collaborative Law Professionals group, and represents only one party in the Collaborative Law divorce process.
The parties understand that the process, even with full and honest disclosure, will involve vigorous good faith negotiation.
Each party will be expected to take a reasoned position in all disputes. Where such positions differ, each party will be encouraged to exercise good faith, and use best efforts to create proposals to meet the fundamental needs of both, and if necessary to compromise to reach a settlement of all issues.
Although each party may discuss the likely outcome of a litigated result, neither will use threats of litigation as a way of forcing settlement.
VII. ABUSE OF THE COLLABORATIVE PROCESS
The parties agree that an attorney will withdraw from a case as soon as possible upon learning that his or her client has withheld or misrepresented information or otherwise acted so as to undermine or take unfair advantage of the Collaborative Law process. Examples of such violations of the process are: the secret disposition of community, quasi-community or separate property, failing to disclose the existence or the true nature of assets and/or obligations, failure to participate in the spirit of the collaborative process, abuse of their spouse, or the minor children, or planning to flee the jurisdiction of the court with the children. These are just examples and not an exhaustive list of all reasons why an attorney may withdraw from the Collaborative Law case.
VIII. DISQUALIFICATION BY COURT INTERVENTION
The parties understand that their attorneys’ representation is limited to the Collaborative Law process and that neither of their attorneys can ever represent his or her client in court in a proceeding against the other spouse.
In the event a court filing is unavoidable, both attorneys will be disqualified from representing either client.
In the event that the Collaborative Law process terminates, all consultants will be disqualified as witnesses and their work product will be inadmissible as evidence unless the parties agree otherwise in writing.
IX. ATTORNEY’S FEES AND COSTS
The parties agree that their attorneys are entitled to be paid for their services, and the first task in a collaborative matter is to ensure parity of payment to each of them. The parties agree to make funds available for this purpose.
The parties understand that there is no guarantee that the process will be successful in resolving their case.
The parties understand that divorce is not without conflict, and the Collaborative Law process cannot eliminate concerns about the disharmony, distrust and irreconcilable differences which have led to the divorce.
The parties understand that they are still expected to assert their respective interests and that their respective attorneys will help each to do so.
The parties understand that they should not lapse into a false sense of security that the process will protect each of them.
The parties understand that while their collaborative attorneys share a commitment to the process described in this document, each of them has a professional duty to represent his or her own client diligently, and is not the attorney for the other party.