21001 Sycolin Road
Suite 340
Ashburn, Virginia 20147

Law Office of Li-Shann Durst

(703) 443-4762

Collaborative Law

Watch our Video to Learn About Collaborative Law

What kinds of family law cases use collaborative law?

All family law issues can be resolved using collaborative law.  These include divorce, separation, custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support and property matters. 

In collaborative law, the parties:

  • Sign a collaborative participation agreement describing the nature and scope of the matter;
  • Disclose all information which is relevant and material to the matter that must be decided;
  • Agree to use good faith efforts in their negotiations to reach a mutually acceptable settlement;
  • Are represented by their own lawyer whose representation terminates upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding;
  • May engage mental health and financial professionals whose engagement terminates upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding; and
  • May jointly engage other experts as needed.

Core elements of the collaborative process

  • Negotiate a mutually acceptable resolution without having courts decide issues.
  • Maintain open communication and information sharing.
  • Create shared solutions acknowledging the highest priorities of the family.

Is the collaborative law method right for you?

Getting a divorce is no easy matter, but the collaborative divorce process goes a long way in creating a positive and supportive atmosphere in an otherwise negative situation. The collaborative approach may be beneficial in certain cases because the attorneys work together as a team, with other professionals, to help the parties come to agreement.

For example, a child specialist may be needed for children who are suffering from the devastating impact of their parents’ separation. The children may display signs of anxiety by harming themselves, acting out in school, or they may be suffering from severe depression. On the other hand, a parent may need the help of a divorce coach or other mental health expert if he or she is struggling with anger.

With the help of these experts, the family’s needs are prioritized and equal consideration is given to the parties. This team approach encourages cooperation and agreement.

A collaborative divorce is an alternative to litigation in which parties obtain a divorce with the assistance of their lawyers and other professionals without going to court. Collaborative practice provides you and your spouse or partner a team of professionals to support and guide you through the divorce process.  Professionals such as financial specialists, child specialists, divorce coaches, and therapists are sometimes necessary to provide information and assistance to parties as they make difficult decisions regarding the many legal and complicated matters involve in a divorce.  These professionals are introduced into the collaborative process on a as needed basis.

Attorney, Li-Shann Durst, specializes in Collaborative Practice in Loudoun, Fairfax, and Prince William Counties to achieve the best outcomes for clients.

Collaborative Law vs. Litigation


Who Controls the Process?

You and your spouse control the process and make final decisions

Judge controls process and makes final decisions if no agreement

Degrees of Adversity

You and your spouse work in a respectful and open environment

Court is an adversarial process


Usually less expensive than litigation

Costs are unpredictable and can escalate rapidly


You and your spouse create the timetable

Judge sets the timetable; often delays due to crowded court calendars

Use of Outside Experts

Jointly retained specialists provide information and guidance helping you and your spouse develop informed, mutually beneficial solutions 

Separate experts hired to support each person's position, often at great expense to each

Involvement of Lawyers

Your collaborative lawyer works toward a mutually created settlement

Lawyers fight to win, often at great emotional and financial expense, but someone loses


The process and discussions or negotiation details are kept private

Dispute becomes a matter of public record and, sometimes, media attention

Voluntary vs. Mandatory

Voluntary - process is outside of court

Mandatory if no agreement

Lines of Communication

You and your spouse communicate directly with the assistance and guidance of members of your team on how to communicate effectively

You and your spouse negotiate through your lawyers; no process designed to facilitate communication with your spouse

To find out more about Collaborative Law and to speak with a collaborative law attorney, call our Ashburn, VA office at (703) 443-4762 or Schedule a Consultation.