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FAQ: Collaboration

How is collaboration similar to and different than mediation? 

  • In a collaboration, both parties are represented by attorneys and obtain legal advice through their attorneys.  In mediation, the parties may or may not have legal representation.  Although, the mediator may give an opinion when asked, the mediator cannot give legal advice in a mediation.  Both processes are voluntary.  In collaboration, the attorneys will not represent you in court.  If you have an attorney during mediation, he can represent you in court.   

            What happens if we can’t reach an agreement during collaboration?

  • If you are unable to reach an agreement in collaboration, you will have to retain another lawyer to adequately protect your interest. There is a good chance that one of the parties would file a Complaint in court which would be the beginning of litigation. 

            What is a four-way meeting?

  • Your spouse, their attorney, you and your attorney will meet in one of the attorney’s conference rooms.  They are usually scheduled for 2-3 hours at a time and can be either once per week or twice per month. 

What happens during the four-way meeting?

  • Introductions are made, ground rules are established, the process is explained, the Participation Agreement is signed, each party’s goals and interest are identified, information is exchanged, homework is assigned, agendas are set, proposals are presented, alternatives are considered, brainstorming,  agreements are reached and documents are signed.

            Am I allowed to bring someone to the four-way meeting?

  • This should be discussed with your attorney prior to four-way meeting.  Most likely it will be discussed and agreed to at a four-way meeting in order to allow a third party to participate.  An example may be inviting a financial advisor or an accountant to the process. 

            If I am not assertive, will collaboration work?

  • With proper preparation with your attorney before the four-way sessions, it is possible to be successful in collaboration.   During the four-way meeting, you always have the opportunity to consult with your attorney privately. 

            When is collaboration a bad idea?

  • If one of the lawyers is not specifically trained in collaboration, you should probably not agree to the process. If your spouse specifically referred you to one collaborative attorney, you should probably not agree to that attorney.