By Ty Supancic, Esq.
Our Primary Goal
The Law Collaborative’s primary goal is to become masters and innovators in the techniques and practices of Consensual Dispute Resolution (CDR).
We purposefully use the term Consensual Dispute Resolution instead of the more prevalent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) because the term “alternative” could be construed as pejorative: the opposite of “alternative” is “usual” or “regular” which suggest mainstream or preferred methods. But anybody who has ever been involved in “regular” dispute resolution (litigation) can attest to the fact that, while it may be mainstream, it is definitely not superior. More often than not both parties are worse off after participating in the traditional dispute resolution process, and the only people enriched are the lawyers.
We believe that CDR methods should always be considered first. Litigation should always be considered a last resort as it is usually the most expensive and least predictable avenue, since a judge will be the one determining the outcome of the family unit, their assets, and all other decisions. We believe that in the near future, litigation will be considered the alternative dispute resolution method.
One of the most promising developments in the field of CDR is Collaborative Divorce, a specialized form of joint mediation involving two attorneys along with a neutral financial specialist, divorce coaches and a child specialist if indicated. They all work together with the couple to come to a resolution that allows everyone to exit the marriage with love, respect, and an acceptable outcome for themselves and their family.
Collaborative Problem Solving
Collaborative Law is not usually taught in law schools; what is taught is positional negotiation, argument, and combat. Even from our earliest upbringing, we are taught to choose sides – dodge ball, red rover – every sport is about one side winning and the other losing.
Attorneys in law school are taught from their first day there are two sides to every argument – wrong and right, innocent and guilty, black and white. Graduates exit the system indoctrinated and highly skilled in the methods of argument and combat.
In contrast, collaboration skills are usually learned by trial and error in daily life as we try to work with family, friends, and co-workers. You might pick up some collaborative skills in leadership training or business school, but collaboration is usually taught as a means to an end, not the end in itself.
In Collaborative Divorce, solutions are not dictated to the parties, but arrived at by the parties themselves. The parties are not made to take positions, but are asked about goals and outcomes. Oftentimes creative solutions present themselves where previously no solution seemed possible. Instead of litigation’s “winner take all” result, Collaboration can result in a true win/win solution.
Since both parties play an active role in the problem-solving process, and they are usually much more satisfied with the results even if they might not have been otherwise because, having controlled the process, the parties “own” the results.
Even after a divorce, there are disputes that can arise with ever-changing and evolving situations (e.g. child custody, support, or disability). As long as parties remain in relationship, the potential for conflict to arise is never ending. However, these issues can be addressed through a continuing and constant application of Collaborative methods to prevent controversies from becoming conflicts.
In our experience, Collaboration has proven to be the most cost-effective and least destructive method of long-term dispute prevention and resolution.