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Collaborative law is a process used almost exclusively in divorce cases to allow parties to resolve legal issues without going to court.

In the collaborative approach, the parties each retain their own counsel, but they agree at the outset to attempt to resolve all differences without the intervention of the court. Accordingly, the parties don’t need to schedule pre-trial conferences, and they don’t need to prepare and argue motions regarding discovery, evidence or other matters. In fact, in most jurisdictions, if the parties to a collaborative divorce proceeding cannot resolve all matters and must ask the court to intervene, the parties must dismiss any attorneys who participated in the collaborative process and retain new counsel.

One of the most effective developments of the collaborative process has been the inclusion of experts in determining such issues as child support, alimony, custody and visitation, and property settlements. In a collaborative divorce, it is common for the parties to bring in a family therapist to advise them regarding the best custody and visitation arrangements, or to turn to a financial specialist to help them equitably divide marital debts and assets.

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