Cooperative and Collaborative law, relatively new approaches in South Carolina, provide opportunities to settle divorce, separation and custody cases with the assistance of attorneys who commit to work in a non-litigious manner.
Collaborative law usually employs a team in which all members work together to reach a resolution. It's an open process where each side is represented by his or her own attorney, and neutral specialists in areas of finance, child custody, and divorce counseling are brought in as needed. An agreement is signed at the start of the process which declares that if either party decides he or she would rather go to court to litigate, both attorneys must withdraw. If this happens, the process must start over with new attorneys. This is a safeguard to make sure that all parties are serious about and fully committed to the process.
Cooperative law is a similar process to Collaborative Law, except that there is no provision requiring attorneys to withdraw if one party backs out of the process. However, as with Collaborative Law, there is a contract to sign at the start of the process outlining both parties' and both attorneys' commitment to negotiation rather than litigation. The cooperative process can begin with only one party represented, so long as the unrepresented party understands that this is a choice and that the retained attorney represents just one party. This process (cooperative law, one attorney) resembles mediation with the important distinction that the attorney advises one party rather than remaining neutral. To learn more about cooperative law, visit the Charleston Cooperative Family Law Association.
Both Collaborative and cooperative Law share some significant advantages with mediation:
Note: Collaborative and Cooperative law are not appropriate for all cases. If there is a history of domestic abuse or other power imbalances, or either party is not committed to honest and complete financial disclosure, parties are advised to retain litigation attorneys. Contact the Office of Jill E.M. HaLevi now to learn more.