Senior Citizen's Guide to PIttsburgh 2014 Vol. 1 Winter/Spring - page 34

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The collaborative approach is
a form of dispute resolution that
allows parties to reach a mutually
beneficial outcome by avoiding
any litigious court intervention. In
the collaborative law process, each
party is represented by an attorney
who must be certified in collabora-
tive law. In order for an attorney to
become certified in collaborative
law, he or she must receive train-
ing in both mediation and the col-
laborative process. In collaborative
law, each party signs an agreement
that promises fair dealing, respect,
and a complete ban on courtroom
litigation. If either party decides to
take the matter to court, then both
attorneys must withdraw, and the
parties must begin their case from
scratch through the court system.
The collaborative law process
allows the parties to address the
emotional, social, and financial
issues underlying their legal dis-
agreements in a cost-effective
manner. For example, parties are
encouraged to bring experts from
other fields into the discussion,
including financial planners, psy-
chologists, and appraisers to help
achieve optimal results. The parties
agree to share their experts, which
allows both parties to defray the
costs associated with involving
experts in dispute resolution.
Collaborative law is most often
associated with family law. Do-
mestic relations disputes are often
emotionally-charged, with parties
commonly disagreeing because
of feelings of loss, betrayal, and
abandonment. The collaborative
approach allows the parties to ad-
dress their legal issues in a safe,
non-litigious manner that encour-
ages resolution of both the legal and
interpersonal disputes. Collabora-
tive law can help to settle a divorce
or custody issue while maintaining
a healthy family relationship.
As more attorneys realize the
benefits of collaborative law, the
practice is increasingly applied
to other areas of the law. One
such development is in the field
of elder law. Elder law attorneys
aim to facilitate their clients’
independence through educating
family members about different
financial and legal options avail-
able, as well as financial and dis-
ability planning. Oftentimes such
legal and financial decisions lead
to messy disputes between family
members arising from different
ideas of how to best care for their
loved ones. Collaborative law can
help families reach an agreement
while still maintaining their close
interpersonal relationships.
In the elder law setting, col-
Collaborative Law
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