Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to hire other experts?

Most cases do not require outside experts.  If experts are needed the team selects a competent neutral to provide facts for both sides in the dispute.

Can we switch to collaborative if we’ve already started litigation?

Yes, but it may require changing attorneys.

What about children in collaboration?

Collaboration focuses on protecting the interests, safety and development of children.

Is collaborative quicker?

It depends on the size and kind of the issues, and the willingness of the couple to work together and explore alternatives.

What happens if we can’t agree about something?

A ‘decider’ can be brought in to do the job, or it can be skipped over for the time being.

When am I better off litigating my divorce?

When one party can’t or won’t agree to address issues with honesty and the desire to be fair.

Can I use collaboration for anything besides a divorce?

Yes. Any dispute can be address Collaboratively if the parties to the dispute are willing to be honest and fair.

Do attorneys charge the same rate for collaborative services?

By and large the rate charged by attorneys for collaborative services are the same as for other non-collaborative work.

Does it always work?

The Collaborative method may fail to produce an agreement if the parties cannot be honest, if they are not willing to be fair, or are unwilling to engage openly in the process.

Aren’t divorce outcomes set by law? What is collaborative going to do for me?

A Collaborative divorce will ensure that all of your needs and interests are considered and all of your concerns addressed.  Collaboration allows for creativity in outcomes that my not be attainable in the law-based system of the courts.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of collaborative divorce?

Greater control, direct participation, protects children, more creative solutions, more considered agreements, multiple opportunities for reduced cost, no Court appearances or testimony.

Will other jurisdictions recognize my collaborative divorce?

Absolutely. The Collaborative method does not issue divorces, the Court does, and so Collaboratively arranged divorces are as valid and recognized as any divorce issued divorce, and the same is true of the parties property settlement agreement.

How much more does it cost to use collaborative?

There are many reasons and opportunities for collaboration to cost less than litigation.

Can you have an uncontested collaborative divorce?

Once the settlement of the issues has been agreed to the couple may proceed with a divorce on an uncontested basis.

Can collaborative work if the couple really hates each other?

Absolutely, provided that for this purpose they are willing to be in the same room and participate in serious conversation about the issues.

Who can use the collaborative method?

Anyone who can be open and honest and wishes to be fair and reasonable.

Do I have to have an attorney?

Yes.  These issues are too complex, and the cost of mistakes too high, not to have your own advocate.

Do I have to go to court?

No. In fact all of the parties agree at the beginning that no one will go to Court or appear in Court in connection with your case.

Is collaborative the same as mediation?

No. Both methods keep you out of Court but in Collaboration the tem includes a lawyer advocate for each party and a facilitator to keep the process moving forward.

What does “Collaborative” mean?

It means the team of professionals working on your case work together “Collaboratively” rather than fighting each other.

What happens if we can’t or won’t reach agreement?

The collaborative process does not force people to reach agreement. Reaching agreement may be difficult, but the collaborative process offers a greater range of individualized options.

If one or both parties are unwilling to say “Yes” to an option, despite the best efforts of the team, the parties can agree to let an outside party make the decision, just as a Judge would in the same circumstance in a litigated divorce. Occasionally, the relationship between the client and the attorney breaks down, in which case the client may substitute a different collaborative attorney.

Finally, if the parties are unable to maintain a positive working relationship, the parties can elect to end the Collaborative process, at which point they would move to a different process, likely litigation, each with a different attorney. Such a result is unfortunate for all involved, and the team is highly motivated to carefully screen prospective collaborative clients and to work hard to keep the decision-making process moving forward in a positive way so that the chances for success are maximized.

How much do collaborative attorneys charge?

Collaborative attorneys are no different than other attorneys. Charges vary from attorney to attorney, depending on experience, overhead expenses, the complexity of the matter, and in some cases the circumstances of the client. Your attorney is likely to want to meet with you before discussing an hourly rate, or likely costs, but before hiring any attorney you should know the rate at which your are to be charged and what services are included and excluded from the attorney’s hourly rate.

Can I interview a collaborative attorney before hiring him or her?

You should meet with any attorney before you hire her or him. In the attorney/client relationship, the most important part is the relationship. Is this someone you feel comfortable talking to? Do they listen to you? Do you feel comfortable that they know the law in the areas where you have issues? Do they have time to devote to your matter?

How do they shape up in other areas of concern to you?
Some attorney have extensive web-sites, some offer free-initial consultations, some charge for initial consultations but are prepared to talk about the specifics of your situation. Whatever the arrangement, an initial meeting with a prospective attorney is important.


Can any lawyer assist me with a collaborative divorce?

The law in New York State does not license lawyers in specialty areas of practice other than maritime law and patent law, so any attorney can say that they will provide a collaborative divorce, or a negotiated divorce, or an out-of-court divorce. While a Collaborative Attorney can work with a non-collaborative attorney in a cooperative manner, with the intent to meet with the parties and negotiate an agreement, when things get difficult the attorneys have the option of going to Court to protect or secure an advantage, and that leverage results in few such arrangements being truly collaborative.

A true Collaborative Divorce and Family Law attorney has undergone specialized training in the Collaborative process as first developed by attorney Stuart Webb. They are involved in continuing collaborative practice training and practice review. They are members of the Central New York Collaborative Family Law Professionals, Inc., a notfor-profit corporation that provides training, standards and support for collaborative practice, and they are likely to be a member of the IACP, The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

The members of the Central New York Collaborative Family Law Professionals, Inc. represent a collective resource of experience and ideas available to each of its members. The members, including, facilitators and allied professionals, work in teams composed of the attorneys selected by each of the parties, a team facilitator, and such other resources as the parties may need from time to time. Each member is committed to the Collaborative process and available to work with any other team member, so clients are assured of getting a team that knows how to work together to assist the parties in resolving the many issues common to every divorce and the unique issues that arise from time-to-time.

Where can I find a Collaborative Attorney?

The best place to find a collaborative attorney is right here. Just click on our Member List to see a list of trained collaborative attorneys and information about each one.

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