Each spouse retains a specially-trained collaborative lawyer. The couple and the lawyers sign a written agreement called a Participation Agreement, stating that all will negotiate in good faith, make full disclosure, put the child(s)’ interests first, act with integrity, and seek solutions that work for each party but also for the family as a whole.
The Participation Agreement provides that the lawyers are retained solely to help the parties reach a mutually acceptable settlement out of Court. When necessary, parenting coaches, child specialists and financial specialists are brought into the team to contribute to creative problem solving.
If either party decides to go to the Court, the services of both lawyers, and all professionals involved in the case are eliminated. This rule ensures that everyone at the table is focused on only one thing – achieving the best possible settlement.
After each client meets with his or her own lawyer individually, the couple and the lawyers meet in a series of face-to-face settlement meetings during which they decide on the issues to be settled, resolve immediate issues regarding financial and parenting arrangements, exchange all important information, share interests, goals and values, develop an array of settlement options, and choose the settlement option that provides the best outcome.
The number of meetings depends upon the complexity of issues and the emotional dynamics between the parties. After our initial meeting, we can provide a fair estimate to the number of settlement meetings that may be required.
The collaborative process is dignified and cost-effective. The parties generally find that their ability to communicate with each other for the sake of their children is improved over the course of the collaborative negotiations. The result is a settlement customized to the needs of each family.
Since 1969 Simmons da Silva LLP’s reputation is built on being astute problem solvers and for providing common sense solutions to legal issues confronting our clients. We work hands-on with all our clients.