At the very outset of the collaborative divorce process, both attorneys pledge in writing not to go to court under any circumstances. Indeed, both of the collaborative lawyers pledge to withdraw should one party become dissatisfied, threaten to go to court, or if settlement cannot be achieved.
In collaborative divorce, “the lawyer is not a partisan, as in traditional negotiation, and is not a neutral, as a mediator is required to be. S/he is something else, a role that is ill-defined and difficult to determine.1 However, the facts are that all lawyers are trained into an adversarial system and many collaborative lawyers spent years as ardent trial attorneys. Can (or should) clients trust that both attorneys have the ability and self-awareness to overcome the role confusion inherent in the collaborative divorce process?
One might also ask and be concerned about whether the role confusion intrinsic to collaborative divorce may actually leave a client feeling less, rather than more, empowered. Say, for example, a client chose collaborative divorce so as to have an attorney negotiate for him or her. It seems unlikely that that same client will have the ability to speak up should he or she believe that his or her attorney has slipped into an adversarial role.
Confidentiality of communication is the bedrock of the traditional attorney-client relationship. However, most collaborative contracts that clients sign are ambiguous about the extent to which this confidentiality must be preserved, thus increasing the likelihood that one or both attorneys might disregard it for the sake of collaboration and settlement.
As compared to the typical fees for two trial lawyers, collaborative divorce is likely to be economical. However, at best, collaborative divorce involves four-way communication – and perhaps as much as five- or six-way communication if independent experts such as psychologists, accountants, and appraisers are added to the “team.” Furthermore, collaborative contracts allow the attorneys and other professionals to communicate amongst themselves whenever they deem it appropriate, raising additional concerns about cost and economy.
In the event that the collaborative process proves unsuccessful, the clients alone bear the additional costs – financial and psychological – of starting all over again with two trial lawyers and new experts. Should not anyone considering collaborative divorce be very concerned about the possibility of having no choice but to agree to an unsatisfactory settlement only because he or she can’t afford to start anew?
Divorce mediation involves only three-way communication. Many mediators have backgrounds not only in law, but also in psychology and/or business. Most mediators provide their clients with a list of select attorneys and other professionals who are willing to act as mediation consultants on an hourly, as-needed basis. Many mediators prepare comprehensive settlement agreements, with each client deciding whether or not to have it reviewed by an attorney. It therefore stands to reason that a mediated divorce is likely to be far less costly than a collaborative divorce.
On the surface, these pledges would appear to foster the best interests of the divorcing couple. However, it also creates a singular objective, namely, settlement. Any and all other options short of settlement are unacceptable, meaning that the attorneys are not only interested in settlement – as are most mediators and even some adversarial lawyers – but are totally invested, indeed driven, by it! After all, under this pledge both attorneys are out of a job if one party becomes dissatisfied with the collaborative process, threatens litigation, or if settlement negotiations reach an impasse.
It thus seems reasonable to ask and be concerned about whether this overriding commitment to settlement actually serves the best interests of collaborative clients. For instance, to what length will one or both of the collaborative attorneys go to achieve settlement – and carve another “settled” notch in their belts? Might this pledge consciously or unconsciously influence how an attorney communicates with or behaves toward his or her client? Might it also influence how the attorneys interact with each other? And, might it affect how many of a client’s rights and interests one or both attorneys might be willing to sacrifice to achieve settlement?
See how our divorce mediation process infused with law and psychology saves you time, money, and stress.
Our services cost a small fraction of using lawyers regardless your circumstances. And everything will be finalized in much less time than the eight to fifteen months typical when using lawyers in the court-based system.
We incorporate everything you decided during mediation in a personalized and legally-binding settlement agreement and all required court documents. You keep control, you won’t surrender it lawyers and a judge, and will never have to go to court.
We are adept at reducing the anger and sadness that causes the hostility and stress common to divorce. If minor children are involved, reduced parental hostility and stress will save them from the intensified emotions generated by oppositional lawyers.
The professionalism, organization, ability to completely explain and make aware of all the options possible were kindly delivered by Oliver. I would not look anywhere else for a better mediator
Judy BarretoFormer Client
Oliver and his staff made this difficult time in our lives so much easier. The approach to divorce was handled with concern for our emotional, as well as financial, well-being. We both came out feeling as though we were treated fairly and given sound advice for going forward.
Tracy RFormer Client
My experience using Out-of-Court-Solutions was extremely positive and I highly recommend their services to anyone facing as difficult a situation as a divorce or separation.
Jenna MarieFormer Client
Out-of-Court Solutions guided us through the difficult process of divorce. Valuable information was provided that enabled us to formulate intelligent decisions.
Sherry WrightFormer Client
Out-of-Court Solutions guided us through the difficult process of divorce. Valuable information was provided that enabled us to formulate intelligent decisions. Both our mediator and his support staff were very supportive when emotions surfaced and due to their calm and professional approach made a tough situation easier to navigate.
Sherry AlmondFormer Client
I could not have hoped for a better experience in reaching a settlement. I’m forever grateful for Oliver’s help. He’s the best!
David RogersFormer Client
Out-of-Court Solutions provided me the information I needed to make all the necessary, and sometimes difficult, decisions during my divorce. They walked me through every aspect of the divorce process and promptly answered all my phone and email inquiries. Their compassion, guidance and knowledge combined with their affordability is why I give them a 5 star recommendation. Thank you Amanda, Cassie and Tamara!
Joanne GutierrezFormer Client
The team at Out of Court Solutions made a very uncertain and stressful process super easy. The team was responsive, timely, and thorough. I was pleasantly surprised with streamlined the guidance and process was.
Rachael OhtonFormer Client
Out of Court Solutions is everything that it’s name implies-plus a lot more! They bring simple, but thorough processes to what is always a hard and emotional set of decisions. TRUE professionals ! Out of Court Solutions simplifies the divorce process and does it cost effectively.
Allen LorenziFormer Client
I’m Barry Brooks and I confess I have not worked with Oliver Ross and his team at Out of Court Solutions. But the reason I’m writing is I have had several of my friends do so and have had terrific resolutions for all parties involved. No hostility often typically found with divorce attorneys. And they feel that they saved themselves a lot of aggravation, time as well as money. Very highly recommended!
Barry BrooksFormer Client