In the collaborative process, each party has their own attorney. The lawyers and clients meet together in 4-way meetings. The lawyers are not neutral. They each represent their individual client and their primary responsibility is to their client. Like an attorney representing a client in any other matter, collaborative attorneys act as a resource, a guide, an educator, and an advocate for his or her client. However, unlike an attorney representing a client in any other matter, each collaborative divorce lawyer has been trained in techniques which fosters collaborative problem solving and consensus building. By working together in an honest, civil and professional manner, they display behavior to each other they hope their clients will mirror when interacting with their own spouse or partner. By showing respect and patience with the other attorney, they hope their clients will behave in the same manner and such behavior will aid in reaching an agreement. At the same time, the attorneys can and will provide their particular clients legal advice and direction – most all of it in meetings attended by both parties and both attorneys – for a full, real-time discussion of all legal issues raised. Sometimes the lawyers agree with one another. Sometimes they disagree. But the parties can see and hear this discussion and ask questions of their attorneys right there in the room to help them make the best decision for themselves and their family.
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