Collaborative Law, Part Two: The Role of the Collaborative Attorney

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We’ve previously discussed the effectiveness of Collaborative Law as an alternate means of navigating your divorce action and some of the keys features that may be appealing to you including the involvement of a team approach. One of the key members of the Collaborative team is the Collaborative Attorney.  Having the benefit of a skilled Collaborative Attorney is essential.  What exactly is the role of the Collaborative Attorney?

  • Client Educator. One of the many hats worn by the Collaborative Attorney is that of client educator.  The Attorney’s job is to teach the client about the various issues that will need to be addressed and the stages of the Collaborative process.  The Attorney will work with you to identify the issues that are important to you and provide you with information that can assist you in meeting your objectives.  The Attorney will also explain each step of the process so that you can confidently navigate from start to finish while being prepared for any unexpected twists along the way.
  • Process Manager. The Attorney will work with you, your spouse and his/her Collaborative Attorney as well as any other team members to schedule meetings, ensure that deadlines are met, and provide you with homework assignments to gather any necessary information needed for the next step in the process.  In short, the Collaborative Attorney assists to make sure that the case moves forward in a timely manner to completion.
  • Legal Counselor and Researcher. Not only will your Attorney help you to identify the issues that are important to you, he or she will also provide you with legal advice so that you may have a realistic expectation throughout the process and when entering into negotiations with your spouse.  Your Attorney can give you an objective opinion that will help you to make sound decisions at all stages of the process.
  • Fact Gatherer. The Attorney will ensure that you, your spouse’s Collaborative Attorney, and any other team members have sufficient information to allow everyone to make informed decisions.  This includes gathering current account statements for any bank or retirement accounts, working with appraisers to gather information about the value of your assets, gathering employment and income information, or gathering documented communication that may be relevant to an issue in your particular case.  The Attorney will help you identify which facts and information will be relevant and assist you in locating the necessary documentation.
  • Your Collaborative Attorney is your key team member and will act as your agent and right-hand man in negotiations with your spouse.  The Attorney will help prepare you to confidently present your proposals to your spouse during joint sessions and will discuss various strategies with you when entering negotiations so you know what you should reasonably request and how to effectively do so.
  • Document Drafter. After you and your spouse have reached a global resolution of all issues, in order to obtain the divorce, you must prepare a joint petition and present it along with your agreement to the Court for approval.  The Attorney will prepare these legal documents for the parties’ signatures, and then file them with the Court.  The Attorney may also assist after the divorce decree is entered to prepare any necessary deeds or documentation to transfer retirement assets.

If you think the Collaborative process might be right for you and have questions about how our Collaborative Attorney can assist you, give us a call.  We can help.  Contact attorney Tracy Lyson at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss today either online or by calling 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.

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