Collaborative Divorce (capitalized as a proper noun) in Oregon, while having been around for quite some time, has only recently begun to gather critical mass in our state. By necessity, Collaborative Divorce requires the agreement of both parties to pursue this alternative method of divorce. By extension, both parties must also retain the services of a collaboratively-trained divorce lawyer to represent their interests. However, because Oregon Collaborative Divorce is gaining in popularity, there are also many attorneys who are entering the field without the appropriate training or understanding of how the process works. Here are five primary hallmarks of the best Oregon Collaborative Divorce lawyers:
- The best Oregon Collaborative Divorce lawyers will be trained in the process. This sounds obvious, but is less common than you may believe. Collaborative Divorce is not just a buzzword; it is a methodology and a process. The Collaborative Divorce process has procedures, rules, expectations, and recommended pathways to solving marital problems. When lawyers dabble in the process without being appropriately trained, they can undermine the very tenants of the underlying philosophy that makes Collaborative Divorce an attractive alternative to traditional litigation. When interviewing a potential Oregon divorce lawyer holding themselves out as practicing Collaborative Divorce, it is perfectly acceptable to ask when or where they trained in the process.
- An Oregon Collaborative Divorce lawyer must be committed to the process. Collaborative Divorce requires that all parties agree to be bound by the process. This is done via a “disqualification clause,” which mandates that should the process fail, *each party must fire their attorneys* before transferring to the litigated (traditional) divorce process. This carrot/stick approach is meant to deter people from drifting in and out of the Collaborative Divorce process, and constantly threatening litigation. However, lawyers who do not understand the process sometimes try to play both sides of the fence. These lawyers will not sign the disqualification clause, allowing them to litigate the case if the Collaborative Process fails, and essentially removing the incentive to finish the divorce collaboratively.
- The best Oregon Collaborative Divorce attorneys will pursue positive relationships with other collaboratively trained professionals. Unlike a traditional litigated approach, Collaborative Divorce is a team effort. This means that the lawyers must work together with each other effectively, as well as with team financial specialists, child specialists, or team/individual coaches. Oregon Collaborative Divorce works best when the team is working together effectively for the benefit of the family undergoing the process. If a lawyer takes an adversarial approach in this team environment, the whole system suffers.
- An experienced Oregon Collaborative Divorce lawyer will rationally adapt the team size based upon the needs of the family. Every set of family facts and circumstances are different. While some families may require a full team of lawyers, financial professionals, and coaches, others may traverse the system effectively with only lawyer involvement. A skilled Collaborative Divorce lawyer will be able to effectively assess the needs of the family to bring in the professional team members as necessary to add real value for the family. Part of this assessment includes an understanding of the family finances, and the combined goals and interests of the divorcing couple.
- The top Oregon Collaborative Divorce attorneys will be committed to identifying underlying interests of both parties to reach a lasting resolution. Collaborative Divorce requires the ability of the lawyer to put away the positional bargaining instincts drilled into them in law school. A Collaborative Divorce lawyer is part of a team working for the benefit of the family as an entire unit, not simply their individual client. Accordingly, the traditional notions of “adverse party” need to be revisited and relearned by the lawyer; there is no “adverse party” in Collaborative Divorce. Instead, the best Collaborative Divorce lawyers in Oregon will seek resolutions that are satisfactory to the entire family.
At Brittle & Brittle P.C., our founders and partners Jill Brittle and Adam Brittle have both been collaboratively trained since 2010. Contact one of our Collaborative Divorce lawyers today to schedule a consultation.