In this process, each person involved has their own specially trained lawyer. Both lawyers commit to resolving all matters between the people involved without fighting in court. Sometimes in this process, the lawyers might suggest the inclusion of other collaborative team members such as separation coaches, child consultants, or divorce financial experts.
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To Tony’s surprise, Rebecca’s lawyer greets him with a big smile and friendly handshake. She offers him a cup of coffee and invites him to make himself comfortable while waiting for his own collaborative lawyer to arrive. During his initial meeting with his lawyer, he learned that his lawyer and the other lawyer would be taking turns hosting, as well as sharing other responsibilities throughout the collaborative process. He finds it hard to believe that lawyers can work co-operatively together. He’s heard too many horror stories from his divorced friends.
He sits down and slips his tablet into his briefcase. He’s reviewed the materials from his lawyer and highlighted the part about reaching a “fair and equitable settlement.” Today’s joint meeting is simply step one – they’d review the participation agreement and identify pressing issues – but still, his heart is beating wildly in his chest. He looks around the waiting room. A book on the coffee table, What Happens Next? Information For Kids About Separation and Divorce catches his eye. As he flips through the pages, Rebecca walks in. She looks surprised. She probably didn’t expect him to get there on time, let alone a few minutes early.
Rebecca checks to make sure she has her phone and the binder of information her collaborative lawyer gave her, takes a deep breath and opens the car door. As she crosses the street, she thinks about some of the guiding principles identified in the participation agreement. Honesty. Respectful communication. That no one would take advantage of any mistake that might be made during the process. She has to admit, she feels skeptical, especially after watching Marriage Story on Netflix last night.
When she enters her lawyer’s office, she sees Tony sitting on the couch in the waiting room, looking at a book. When has Tony ever been on time, let alone early? Before she can process her surprise, the receptionist comes around the corner, a steaming cup of coffee in his hand and a smile on his face. He hands the coffee to Tony and asks Rebecca if she would like a beverage as well, then invites her to wait in the boardroom while her lawyer grabs a notebook and pen from the other room.