Proponents of the collaborative law process often discuss reasons to use the process when they are talking to clients or prospective clients. They frequently mention potential cost savings, the ability to maintain control of the process and agreements related to the process, the ability to minimize damage to their relationship with the other party, learning to communicate better by going through the process, and so on.
However, one benefit of collaborative law that often goes undiscussed, or at least often garners only passing mention, is the privacy offered by the process.
As opposed to litigated cases, which can end up playing out in public, participants in the collaborative law process frequently go from filing to finishing their divorce without ever seen the inside of the court room. Further, the parties can more easily control what information is released, or potentially released, to the public and in what form it is released.
Collaborative Law meetings take place in a private office with only the parties and collaborative team members – attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals – present.
Parties agree early on that they will not go to court and, if the process is successful, often never do. While a brief court appearance at the end of the process might be necessary to get the decree signed, that appearance is usually conducted quickly up at the bench right in front of the judge, rather than in the drawn-out, public, and, frequently, embarrassing way people are used to seeing court proceedings take place on TV.
Parties also handle their disagreements, and potential areas of controversy, including very personal issues like allegations of infidelity and mismanagement of marital assets, privately thereby preventing the disclosure of that information to the general public, but also, more importantly, to their children and other family members.
Of all the benefits of collaborative law, and handling your divorce collaboratively, I’ve found that the privacy provided by the process is often one of the real reasons to choose it and one much appreciated by clients after the fact.