What Is Collaborative Law?

Most clients come to a lawyer expecting to battle out their issue in court. While litigation is an option, it isn’t always the best way to find solutions. Many lawyers now offer other professional services that include mediation and collaborative law. Both of these options offer a different way to come to an agreement, and collaborative law is often a less stressful way to find a solution. Learn more about what collaborative law is and how it could help your own disagreement.

Who Is Involved in Collaborative Law

There are a few different groups of people involved in the collaborative law process.

Disputing Parties

The clients who need help in settling a disagreement are usually two different people or parties. There could be more than two parties involved in the collaborative process as well, depending on the dispute. Divorcing couples, business partners, and family members often use collaborative law to find solutions to disagreements.


Each disputing party must be represented by a lawyer who will advise and help answer questions that involve the situation’s legalities. Any lawyer who is part of the collaborative law process cannot represent anyone involved if the case ends up going to court. The lawyer’s duties are done when the collaborative law process has ended.

Professional Experts

In the collaborative process, other professionals join in to help provide clarification and an unbiased view of the situation. These expert professionals often include those in the finance, mental health, or child advocacy sectors. These neutral professionals weigh in on different aspects and solutions to help provide an easy transition. The disputing parties can agree to add experts as well if needed.

What Is Required in Collaborative Law

As in any law process, there are some guidelines and rules to follow. The collaborative process hinges on four guiding principles: respect, dignity, openness, and fairness that everyone involved must agree to.

Voluntary Participants

The collaborative law process is voluntary, meaning that the disputing parties must agree to be part of the process. The process is discontinued if any party chooses to stop their involvement. 

Mutual Agreement

There is no winner or loser in the collaborative process as the parties must agree to work together to find an acceptable solution. This means that both parties work towards an agreement that is acceptable to everyone involved. The disputing parties must be willing to compromise to find a resolution without having to go to court.

Full Disclosure

Each party must agree to disclose all information that pertains to the issue at hand. This often includes full knowledge of financial accounts, health history, and parenting issues that could affect the topics discussed. Open communication is vital during the collaborative law process.

Benefits of Collaborative Law

There are many reasons why collaborative law is a better option for disputing families and groups. 

Less Conflict

Less conflict is a vital benefit of the collaborative process, especially in a divorce. Spouses work together to find a solution rather than fight with each other. When divorce includes children, collaborative law is a far less combative process because parents are committed to working together to do what is best for the children.

Preserve Relationships

Working through a dispute collaboratively allows you to preserve the relationship with the other party. While you probably won’t be hanging out on the weekends together, collaborative law allows you to work through the problem in a civil manner. 

This is especially helpful in a divorce when parents will often need to communicate with each other in the future. Preserving the relationship between spouses, business partners, or family members helps keep the communication lines open if needed.

Less Time

Although no two disputes are ever the same, there is no need to wait on the court to schedule a hearing in the collaborative process. Everyone comes to the table ready to find solutions instead of arguing or assigning blame. Open and honest communication is a key part of finding solutions quickly as well. 

More Options

When working with a group in the collaborative process, there are more options available for solutions. Including professionals in finances and mental health allows for more creativity and flexibility when deciding on future solutions. The collaborative process allows for more time to explore emotional aspects and creative solutions that are typically not part of a judge’s court duties. For those clients who have a unique circumstance, collaborative law allows for specific solutions that may not be available in a court judgment. 

Mutual Agreement Instead of Court Decision

One of the best benefits of collaborative law is that both parties work together to find a solution. No judge rules in favor of one side or the other, but both sides find a resolution that benefits everyone involved. 

How Collaborative Law Works

Everyone works together in the collaborative process. This means that the disputing parties, lawyers, and expert professionals will attend each meeting to discuss the case. Everyone involved usually signs an agreement stating that they will be an active part of the process. The collaborative group of people working together on your case will meet either in-person or via online options if needed.

Additional Ways Donita King Can Help

While many lawyers see the value in the collaborative process, some may not have the expertise and experience Donita King offers her clients. She often works with clients in multiethnic and multicultural communities as well as cross-border relations. Donita King is bilingual and speaks fluent English and Spanish to better assist and understand her clients. Collaborative lawyers must have a minimum of 40 hours of mediation and/or interest-based negotiation training, but Donita has hundreds of training hours in her many years practicing collaborative law and as an authorized mediation trainer herself.

Learn more about how collaborative law can help you solve a disagreement by contacting Donita King Law Offices today. Using the collaborative law process can help you find a solution that works for you and keeps the relationship between disputing parties civil and respectable.

Donita King

Ms. King is a member of the Virginia, Pennsylvania, and D.C. State Bars. She also serves as a University of Richmond School of Law Adjunct Professor of Mediation. She previously served on the Virginia Bar Association Joint ADR Council (2015 Chair), and served for several years on the Governor of Virginia’s Interagency Dispute Resolution Council. Ms. King currently serves as a board member of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board by appointment of the Virginia Supreme Court and has been active with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Women in Business as well. Se habla espanol.

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