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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative Law is a new option for divorcing couples to resolve disputes respectfully without going to court. It promotes consideration, places the needs of children first and retains control of the process with the spouses. In a collaborative law divorce, each spouse retains his or her own attorney and the four work together in a cooperative series of 4-way Team meetings that are non-adversarial. The Team has as a goal the mutual interest of reaching a fair and equitable settlement that meets the interests of all parties, including the children.

How is it different from litigation?
Collaborative Law differs from traditional litigation in that each spouse and his or her lawyer signs a collaborative agreement that guides their behavior throughout the entire process. In this document the parties agree not to litigate and agree to negotiate in good faith. No court proceedings are permitted during the Collaborative Law process.
> Collaborative Law also differs from litigation because the clients themselves, with the guidance of their attorneys, craft the terms of their divorce and the final outcome rather than having an outside third party (such as a judge) decide the outcome for them.

Who can benefit from the collaborative law approach?
Collaborative law is for couples going through a divorce who would like skilled legal representation, but who do not want the stress and animosity caused by traditional litigation.

Is the collaborative process correct for me?
The collaborative process is not necessarily the correct approach for everyone. The parties must be willing to work honestly, openly, and in good faith to arrive at a fair resolution without court involvement or intervention. The collaborative process gives the parties a structured, non-adversarial alternative which enables the settlement of their disputes in a private and confidential setting, while striving to meet the interests of all family members.

Why should I try the Collaborative Law approach?
The Collaborative Law process provides the parties with a safe and structured environment that fosters communication and negotiation with each other while represented by attorneys who assist their clients in resolution of their dispute. The collaborative process encourages parties to be creative in resolving their disputes. When parties use the collaborative process to settle a dispute, the agreement that they reach is often better matched to their needs and their families than they would have received in a court.

How do I get my spouse to agree to Collaborative Law?
The process of Collaborative Law is a voluntary one. Most often, one party to the divorce will be interested in using Collaborative Law and will talk to the other party about his or her interest in using the process in the dissolution of their marriage. Or, the collaborative attorney of one of the parties will contact the other (if he or she is not represented by an attorney) and explain the collaborative law process and provide that person with a list of collaborative attorneys in the area that may be contacted.

What happens if I do not want to continue in the Collaborative Law process?
Either party may end the collaborative law process at any time with or without stating a reason. The collaborative attorneys will attempt to suggest alternatives to terminating the process, but if either party does not agree, the attorneys will withdraw from the case, and the parties may proceed to court with new attorneys.

Will my rights be protected if I choose the Collaborative Law approach?
In a collaborative law process, each party’s attorney upholds his or her duty to represent their client’s interests. With a traditional approach, each attorney takes sole responsibility for advocating his or her client’s interest in a settlement. The collaborative law process is unique in that it focuses on finding a mutually agreeable solution that meets the interests and needs of all family members.

Does Collaborative law cost less?
Collaborative Law cases usually cost less than litigation, but each case is different and there can be no guarantees. Collaborative law cases commonly do settle and therefore they result in a savings for the parties due to the elimination of the most costly aspects of litigation which include court hearings, depositions, expert witnesses, motion hearings, and battles over discovery.

Is my case right for Collaborative Law?
In order for the Collaborative Law process to be successful, both parties must be willing to resolve the dispute and to work to an amicable resolution. And, both parties must be willing to be honest, open, and negotiate in good faith. However, if there has been the presence of physical or substance abuse or criminal activity, it is not likely that productive settlement discussions will be able to take place between the parties.

Can one party take advantage of the Collaborative Law process?
The parties meet face to face with their attorneys in a close and direct manner. The opportunities for discovering dishonesty in a collaborative law process are more likely than in the traditional litigated case. Additionally, all parties in the collaborative law process have signed an agreement that requires an attorney to withdraw if his or her client acts in a dishonest manner or misuses the process.

Who are the members of a collaborative team?
The collaborative team includes the parties and each party’s attorney, but, if required, may also include experts who are brought into the process as neutrals and are jointly retained by both parties.

The collaborative team may consist of professionals from three separate areas, which include legal, mental health, and financial. These additional professionals function in a neutral role and help guide the parties to an efficient resolution that best meets the overall interests of the parties. The mental health and financial professionals may serve on the teams as coaches, child specialists, or financial consultants. Unlike a traditional divorce, the collaborative law approach offers you a team of skilled and compassionate professionals.

How can I learn more about Collaborative Law?
Go to the web site.

Law offices Jacob M. Rzepka 5035 Mayfield Rd. Lyndhurst, Ohio 44236 (216)-923-1309
Hours By Appointment - Evening and Weekend Appointment Available

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