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Collaborative Law

If you are in need of a separation or divorce or are experiencing other family conflict Collaborative Family Law provides you a process for resolving these issues with dignity, respect and mutual concern for both parties and the children involved. The Collaborative Family Law process helps people focus on constructive not destructive choices for their future and the future of their family.

The parties are guided through a streamlined, respectful divorce process to help them make a smooth transition from being married to being divorced. Collaborative Law involves a commitment to settling matters through interest based negotiation, without resorting to litigation or threats of litigation. The lawyers chosen by the parties are retained to help them reach a settlement and to assist them as settlement specialists. The aim is for the clients to keep control of the process with their individual lawyer present as a resource. Lawyers educate their clients on the law and guide them in making choices, but it is the client who makes the decision as to what is best for the family.

More information about Collaborative Law can be found at and

“Peace will remain a distant vision until we do the work of peace ourselves. If peace is to be brought into the world, we must bring it first to our families and communities.” -Seek Peace and Pursue It, Rosh Hashana prayer

Advantages of Collaborative Law

  1. The parties are in control of the process and the outcome.
  2. There is a commitment not go to court which prevents a third party (the judge or referee) from making the decision about the outcome of the divorce.
  3. There is a commitment to reaching an agreement through problem solving with an atmosphere of respect and open communication.
  4. Priority is given to children’s needs.
  5. There is full disclosure of all facts and information with face-to face meetings between the husband and wife and their respective attorneys.
  6. It allows you to plan for the future, your own and that of your children as you all begin your new lives.
  7. You will learn problem solving techniques to assist you with decision-making in the future.
  8. Both parties have an opportunity to be fully heard and have their priorities considered with respect and dignity, as a creative and satisfactory agreement is developed.

Who are the Attorney’s that practice Collaborative Law?

Attorneys who practice collaboratively are generally lawyers with experience who have handled many matrimonial and family law matters in the traditional legal model. These attorneys have made a choice to change the way matrimonial and family law matters are resolved. The traditional legal model is not the best, nor the most appropriate method of managing family disputes.

Many attorneys have felt frustrated by the elements involved in the litigation approach. They have seen that the adversarial model does not meet the needs of the people involved. It causes frustration, ill-will, negativity and blame. Instead of resolving conflict, it tends to fan the flames, destroying relationships and generating distrust. Through collaborative law the attorney is able to focus on positive, constructive and creative solutions and is able to assist the parties to reach a resolution that does meet their needs.

Attorneys, who are trained in collaborative law, generally belong to a collaborative professionals association in their area or region. You can find a collaborative attorney by contacting an association in your area for a list of participating attorneys.

Ms. Mersereau is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, and the Collaborative Law Association of the Rochester Area.