A method of family law practice that stresses the interests of children and promotes cooperation between the parties rather than confrontation in the courtroom is growing rapidly in Nevada County.
Of thirteen attorneys in Nevada County who practice primarily in the area of Family Law, ten just recently attended a two day training session in Sacramento (August 23 & 24) to understand the collaborative process. A core group of attorneys, financial specialists and mental health professionals was formed months ago to implement collaborative divorce into their respective practices.
In a collaborative divorce, the separating couple and their attorneys pledge at the outset to try and work things out through consultation and open communication, using lawyers and other experts to assist in the process. They all pledge in advance not to go to court or use the information shared in collaborative discussions in litigation.
Collaborative law is a relatively new form of dispute resolution, pioneered in the late 1980’s. It has a strong focus on children of the divorce, with a goal to resolve issues privately while minimizing conflict and bitterness for the family.
Janet Harley has been practicing in Nevada County since 1980 and has seen the evolution now occurring in family law practice. “I used to consider myself a “reluctant litigator” in family law, but had not found a process that replaced it. Everyone benefits when they sit down together and work out solutions to problems that this family understands far better than any judge, attorney or third party. Keeping children from being so traumatized, saving a family business, working out special needs for family members – these are solutions best reached through respectful communications, not courtroom battles.”
Maralee Nelder, another attorney member of the organizing group, agrees. “The collaborative process lends itself to a deeper resolution of the pain and trauma families experience in a divorce. Mutual respect, given and received, creates agreements that work for families.”
For further information on collaborative law and its practitioners, go to www.nevadacountycollaborative.com.