The key core principals of Collaborative Negotiating include:
It is a non-litigation process. While participating in a collaborative process, parties may not also be involved in an active lawsuit regarding the same dispute. In fact, the parties and their lawyers all sign an agreement that they will not litigate. They all sign an agreement that, if either party does start a lawsuit, the lawyers and other hired experts and professionals must be replaced, and are prohibited from participating in the litigation.
It is non-adversarial. The process does not pit one party against the other, or employ a win/lose dynamic. Instead, it joins the parties together, and pits them against the problems they and their family face. It is not an adversarial process, it is a problem-solving process.
It insists upon civility and mutual respect. Litigation is adversarial. It is defined by the “vs” that, in every filed document, separates one party from the other. It is about winning and losing. Its participants can sometimes develop deep hostilities for one another and, as a result, can behave poorly sometimes. Collaborative negotiating demands that the parties and their lawyers always behave respectfully toward one another.
It focuses on interests. Litigation is all about positions. “I want this. I don’t want you to have, or get, that.” Collaborative negotiating digs deeper. It helps find agreement by asking or explaining the “why” behind a party’s position. “I want this because….”. “Why do you want or need that?”
It recognizes that the law is not the only standard. It you go to court, a judge will apply the law’s view of what’s fair and right for you and your family. In the collaborative process, your outcome is driven by your standards of fairness, and your understanding of what’s right for your family.
It is multi-disciplinary and team-oriented. The collaborate process recognizes that most disputes are not simply legal events but, instead, are financial and emotional events, too. As such, while it is helpful and necessary to involve lawyers in finding resolution, it may also be helpful and necessary to involve other professionals, too. Mental health providers can help parties manage their emotional issues and needs as the process unfolds, and can help address children’s developmental needs and best outcomes. Likewise, financial professionals can help parties more economically and efficiently gather financial documents, then determine fair asset and debt distributions and support outcomes.