A Family Law Practice Devoted
to Alternative Dispute Resolution

Advantages of Collaboration

by Michael Tobriner

What Are the Advantages of Collaborative Practice?

Collaborative practice offers many distinct advantages:

  • The parties control the outcome of the case. Collaborative practice rests on the assumption that the parties know best what solutions will work for their families. While many family law judges are highly qualified, they are strangers to the parties. Collaborative practice assumes that parties do not want to hand over critical decisions about their future to a stranger, no matter how well-meaning, but instead wish to make these decisions for themselves.
  • The parties can work out solutions tailored to their particular case. Judges face a constraining straightjacket of complex laws and regulations. Collaborative practice allows parties to fashion agreements outside those confinements.
  • Decisions become permanent and lasting. Because the parties have participated in decision-making, and because they have chosen constructive, useful solutions, agreements made in collaborative practice generally remain permanent. Parties usually do not challenge or try to change collaborative agreements, but instead remain committed to them.
  • The parties come through the process with dignity and self-respect. Collaborative practice requires that each party treat the other with dignity and respect.
  • The process is self-affirming for both parties. Each party recognizes that he or she has done his or her best to work through a difficult life transition in a constructive and productive fashion. Each party also recognizes that he or she has tried to understand and appreciate (although not necessarily agreeing with) the other party‚Äôs interests.
  • The parties can preserve a respectful, working relationship with the each other after the case is over. Collaborative practice embraces as a goal the maintenance of a long-term positive relationship between the parties. For parties with children, such a future relationship is crucial for the children. For parties both with and without children a successful collaboration enhances future good relations with former parents-in-law, former siblings-in-law, and family friends.
  • The process is efficient and effective. Experience proves that collaborative practice works. It is not an easy experience, and it demands a high level of emotional and mental energy. But it allows participants to come directly to the point: what are the issues, what are the options, and what are the best solutions.
  • Collaboration avoids the destructive aspects of litigation. All too often litigation produces hostility, bitterness, and anger between the parties. Going through it can deprive parties of their dignity and self-respect. It can destroy the chance to preserve a decent future relationship.
  • Collaboration is less expensive. While the collaborative process is not inexpensive, it is far less expensive than litigation.