Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida > The Collaborative Process: A Family Attorney’s Perspective

Posted on July 23, 2013


From Robert Merlin, Esq.:

At the inception of the Collaborative Process, all of the parties and the Collaborative professionals sign a contract, known as a Participation Agreement. That contract sets forth the basic terms of how the process is going to work, including:

  • The parties will voluntarily exchange all documents and information that is necessary to enable both sides to intelligently resolve all of the disputed issues
  • The parties and the professionals will meet in joint sessions to identify issues and to discuss potential resolutions of those issues
  • No one will go into or threaten to go into court during the Collaborative Process
  • All relevant information will be shared between the parties and the Collaborative professionals, but all such information will be kept confidential with respect to outsiders
  • The Collaborative professionals are to be paid during the process and if a professional has not been paid, that subject will be discussed during a joint meeting
  • The status quo will be maintained during the process, which means that neither party will make any changes that will adversely affect the other party or the parties’ children, such as cancelling insurance or selling an asset
  • The process is voluntary, which means that either party can leave the process anytime they want to, but if they do, the Collaborative Process is terminated and neither of the Collaborative attorneys will represent the parties in contested litigation.

The Collaborative attorneys work as a team with the Mental Health Professional and neutral Financial Professional to help the parties decide their own destiny. No third party, such as a judge, dictates to the parties how they should live their lives in the future. Experience has shown us that through the Collaborative Process, post-judgment litigation is reduced and the parties are able to maintain a healthier relationship after their official relationship is dissolved, which is especially important if the parties have children.

Over 90% of Collaborative cases settle Collaboratively. That statistic is consistent with the number of cases that settle before trial in litigation. Thus, there is a very high chance that a family matter is going to be resolved without going to trial. The only question will be which process is used to reach that settlement. The parties can fight each other, thereby destroying their relationship, or they can resolve their disputes Collaboratively, thereby preserving their relationship in a private, more efficient manner.

You can read more at the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida.