Law Office of Li-Shann Durst
(703) 443-4762

Collaborative Law

Collaborative Law

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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. 

A collaborative divorce is a new way to resolve disputes respectfully without going to court. The collaboratively trained attorney’s focus is on helping her client come to agreement outside of court. The attorney offers guidance during the process; and other professionals such as financial specialists, child specialists, or divorce coaches may be necessary to provide information and assistance to the parties.

These professionals are introduced into the collaborative process only when necessary.

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.

Collaborative law is a voluntary dispute resolution process in which parties settle without resorting to litigation.

In collaborative law, the parties:

  • Sign a collaborative participation agreement describing the nature and scope of the matter;
  • Voluntarily 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.

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 lawyers work 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, call our Ashburn, VA office at (703) 443-4762 or Schedule a Consultation.