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Litigation. Collaborative Law. Mediation.

Let’s Not Fight: The Basics of Collaborative Law in New York


Divorce is an emotional process, and it’s pretty normal to feel multiple emotions – anger, fear, rage, anxiety, heartbreak, even numbness – from one moment to the next. While some couples may relish the idea of a good fight when the time for divorce comes, for many people, the idea of prolonged, contentious litigation is overwhelming and horrifying.

Ending a marriage doesn’t always have to be a barroom brawl. There are alternatives to litigation, including a method called collaborative law.  Collaborative law is a process that couples can use to resolve all of the same issues that litigation does, but without the threat of court looming over your head while you are trying to negotiate a settlement. Collaborative law has some other potential advantages, too, such as:

  • Experiencing a healthier, more respectful approach to issues of divorce
  • Allowing for more creative solutions that work with your particular family’s needs
  • Ensuring both parties are fully and accurately represented when working towards common goals
  • Allowing for more control over the timing of the process
  • Allowing for greater control over the outcome

The collaborative law divorce process is a form of dispute resolution that utilizes a team-based approach employing divorce coaches (therapist trained in the model), neutral financial experts and child specialists to work through the issues that all divorcing couples need to resolve in order to move on (and usually at a lower billable rate than the attorneys!).

What do all of these people do?

The attorneys offer legal guidance, negotiation and analysis with regard to settling issues of divorce. The lawyers are ultimately responsible for facilitating a settlement, drafting the legal documents and finalizing the divorce. Remember, however, that your attorney works for you; while cooperation is key to the approach, you don’t have to worry that your interests and goals will be ignored or denied.

Divorce coaches have specialized training to help couples maintain a more positive mental outlook, while sorting through the strong emotions that divorce stirs up. Having the ability to view the process (and your soon-to-be-ex) in a more positive light can make it easier to reach mutually beneficial outcomes when it comes to important issues, like parenting time.

Financial specialists work to properly divide your marital assets, and determine tax consequences related to property division. By having a neutral, third-party specialist handle the valuation, both parties have a clear view of the overall financial picture.

If you have minor children, a child specialist may become involved to help coach you on how to approach the topic of divorce with your children and also assist with parenting plans. The specialist will give you the tools that you need to meet the children’s needs now and in the future.

Collaborative law is used more as a negotiating tool for both spouses who prefer to reduce the anxiety and trauma that typically accompanies divorce proceedings. You can expect an environment where concerns on each side will be acknowledged and met with respect, rather than used to assign blame or gain leverage over one party. More couples are choosing collaborative law in an effort to make life and divorce more respectful and hopefully simpler during a complicated time.

The award-winning New York City collaborative law attorneys of Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP represent clients in need of counsel. Whether you and your spouse are looking for an amicable resolution, or you need a trusted litigator on your side, we can help. To set up an initial consultation, please call (212) 466-6015 or use our contact form. The firm maintains offices on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, in White Plains, and in Hackensack, New Jersey.