Collaborative Law

The Process:

The collaborative law process is a team approach to resolving conflict. While collaborative law is traditionally used in divorce and parenting conflicts, it’s also well suited for resolving other civil legal matters. The fundamental difference between the collaborative law process and traditional litigation is that clients agree to entirely forgo the use or threatened use of litigation and commit to resolving their dispute through a series of structured and respectful negotiations.

The collaborative process is simple, client-centered and suitable for most families. To begin, each client hires a collaboratively trained attorney to advise and guide them toward resolution. Next, the parties will meet their collaborative team, comprised of each of their attorneys, a financial professional and a mental health and communications specialist. This collaborative team will guide them through a series of structured mediations and negotiations, leading toward resolution.

Between group meetings, clients will meet with their team to discuss goals and strategies to resolve the conflict. In a family law or divorce setting, clients will meet with their financial professional to begin gathering documents and information necessary to create a full picture of the family’s financial resources and obligations, and will also meet with their mental health and communication specialist to discuss parenting issues.

At each group meeting, clients, with the support of their collaborative team, will generate as many settlement options as possible. These options will then be explored and reality tested, enabling clients to determine the best options for their family.

Once agreement is reached, the attorneys will draft all the necessary legal documents to finalize the agreement, which will be delivered to the court for final approval – no court appearance necessary. The end result is a settlement agreement and parenting plan that provide a smooth transition into your family’s future.

The Benefits:

Here are just a of the benefits you can expect if you choose the collaborative path:

  1. Preservation of critical parenting relationships. While not all collaborative clients have children, for those who do, the collaborative path can be a godsend. By choosing focused and dignified negotiation over toxic court battles, parents can focus on protecting and improving their crucial parenting relationship and securing a better future for their children.
  2. Outcome Control. By choosing a Collaborative approach, you decide what your family will look like and what’s in store for your future. A judge may have only a few hours to review your case and make the critical financial and parenting decisions that will govern your family’s future. By choosing the Collaborative process, you and your spouse agree to resolve your divorce without going to court and therefore retain complete control over every decision, large and small. No one knows your family better than you and your spouse. You are the most qualified people to make the decisions that will dictate your family’s future.
  3. Cost and Duration. The structured nature of the collaborative approach provides clients with more predictability regarding the cost and duration of a divorce by eliminating often astronomical costs caused by counterproductive communications and costly discovery, motions and trials.
  4. Minimize Stress. No matter how you frame it, divorce is hard. For most people, it will be among the most difficult and stressful events in their lives. While collaborative cannot entirely eliminate stress, it does remove many of the elements that make divorce so painful. By providing a more productive and respectful structure for resolution, collaborative encourages dignified behavior and respectful communication and provides a safe space to make the best decisions possible.

The Value:

By choosing the Collaborative process, you’ll receive valuable guidance and insight from professionals with specialized experience and expertise.

Mental Health Specialist and Communication Expert:
In addition to your personal advocate (your attorney) your team will include a licensed interpersonal communications expert. This professional will facilitate negotiation sessions, help you and the other party develop and voice your interests, goals, and concerns, and keep you focused on those goals throughout the process to reach a resolution that truly reflects your vision for the future.

Financial Expert:
You’ll have access to a licensed financial professional specializing in financial planning. This financial professional will provide financial education and insight and generate tailored options to achieve your goals. Judges simply don’t have the time and often lack the expertise required to develop specific options you require. Your financial expert team member will provide you with comprehensive projections illustrating how the decisions you make today will impact your future.

To learn more about the collaborative process you can contact Layla for a free consultation, or visit to meet the full Missoula Collaborative Professional Team.

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