PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES FOR COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE
• We acknowledge that the essence of “Collaborative Law” is the shared belief by participants that it is in the best interests of parties and their families in typical family law matters to commit themselves to avoiding litigation.
• We therefore adopt this conflict resolution process, which does not rely on a court-imposed resolution, but relies on an atmosphere of honesty, cooperation, integrity and professionalism geared toward the future well-being of the family.
• Our goal is to minimize, if not eliminate, the negative economic, social and emotional consequences of protracted litigation to the participants and their families.
• We commit ourselves to the collaborative law process and agree to seek a better way to resolve our differences justly and equitably.
II. NO COURT OR OTHER INTERVENTION
• We commit ourselves to settling our case without court intervention.
• We agree to give full, honest and open disclosure of all information which has a material bearing on the case, whether requested or not.
• We agree to engage in informal discussions and conferences to settle all issues.
• We agree to direct all lawyers, accountants, therapists, appraisers and other consultants retained by us to work in a cooperative effort to resolve issues without resort to litigation or any other external decision-making process except as agreed upon.
• We understand there is no guarantee that the process will be successful in resolving our case.
• We understand that the process cannot eliminate concerns about the disharmony, distrust and irreconcilable differences which have led to the current circumstances.
• We understand that we are still expected to assert our respective interests and that our respective lawyers will help each of us do so.
• We understand that we should not lapse into a false sense of security that the process will protect each of us.
• We understand that while our collaborative lawyers share a commitment to the process described in this document, each of them has a professional duty to represent his or her own client diligently, and is not the lawyer for the other party.
IV. PROFESSIONAL FEES AND COSTS
• We agree that our lawyers and other professionals involved in our collaborative divorce are entitled to be paid for their services, and as part of this collaborative matter we will ensure parity of payment to each of them. We agree to make funds available for this purpose.
• Because imbalance in payment to the parties’ respective lawyers or other professionals in the case can adversely affect one party’s access to advice and counsel as compared to the other party, both parties agree that all such fees shall be kept current.
• The professionals involved in this case will confer with one another from time to time by telephone, in person, and via correspondence, in service of ensuring full and complete disclosure of material information and in service of an effective collaborative divorce process. Each professional will bill for time spent in such communications as set out in her or his separate fee agreement.
• Each party should be sure to clarify with their respective collaborative lawyers and other professionals involved in the case how private confidential communications will be handled by such professionals.
V. PARTICIPATION WITH INTEGRITY
• We will work to protect the privacy, respect and dignity of all involved, including parties, attorneys and other professionals and consultants.
• We shall maintain a high standard of integrity and specifically shall not take advantage of each other or of the miscalculations, inconsistencies, misstatements of fact or law, withheld information or inadvertent mistakes of others, but shall identify and correct them.
• In the event an attorney or other professional discovers miscalculations, inconsistencies, misstatements of fact or law, withheld information or inadvertent mistakes of others, he or she shall inform that person of the discovery and remind him/her of the obligations under these Principles and Guidelines to make the required disclosure. In the event an attorney or other professional discovers that he or she has made a misstatement of fact or law or a miscalculation, he or she shall disclose and correct the same. In the event an attorney or other professional discovers that another collaborative lawyer or professional has made a misstatement of fact or law or a miscalculation, he or she shall inform the other lawyer or professional of the discovery and request disclosure and correction of the same.
VI. EXPERTS AND CONSULTANTS
• If experts are needed, we will retain them jointly unless all parties and their attorneys agree otherwise in writing.
• We have retained a third-party to serve as mediator regarding parenting-related issues, case manager and facilitator-coach, [Patti Ashley]. This parenting mediator / facilitator is a NEUTRAL third-party (mediator) intervening in the negotiations of our case to facilitate discussions, case management, communications, collaboration, understanding, and the resolution of any disputes that arise between us. Ms. Ashley’s role as a mediator-case manager-facilitator-coach does not include conducting any form of couple’s therapy and none of her work with us shall consist of any form of couple’s therapy.
• We further agree that the services of the case parenting mediator-manager-facilitator-coach, and the services of any jointly retained financial consultant, are mediation services as defined by the Colorado Dispute Resolution Act. Since these mediation services are integral to the collaborative proceeding and the resolution of any disputes arising in the proceeding, we further specifically agree that all oral and written communications expressed or prepared by either party or either party’s joint or separate agent during, in the course of, or pursuant to the collaborative proceeding, are, or are in the nature of, mediation communications, as defined and confidentially protected by the Colorado Dispute Resolution Act, 13-22-307(2)(a) and (c). We agree to invoke the protections and provisions of the Dispute Resolution Act in any future litigation between us, including, without limitation, disqualification of the Neutrals as Witnesses and Confidentiality Provisions of the Act, and we agree to jointly request any Court hearing any issues between us apply the Act to the communications in these proceedings and to the Neutral Professionals participating in these proceedings, even if the Court for any reason does not find the Act per se applicable to our Collaborative Proceeding.
VII. CHILDREN’S ISSUES
• In resolving issues about sharing the enjoyment of and responsibility for our children, the parties, lawyers and therapists shall make every effort to reach amicable solutions that promote the children’s best interests.
• We agree to act quickly to mediate and resolve differences related to the children to promote a caring, loving and involved relationship between the children and both parents.
• We agree not to seek a parenting evaluation while the matter is a collaborative law case.
• We agree to insulate our children from involvement in our disputes.
• We agree to attend a court-approved parenting class, with our children as appropriate.
VIII. NEGOTIATION IN GOOD FAITH
We acknowledge that each of our lawyers is independent from the other, and represents only one party in our collaborative marital separation or dissolution process.
• We understand that the process, even with full and honest disclosure, will involve vigorous good faith negotiation.
• Each of us will be expected to take a reasoned position in all disagreements and disputed matters. Where our approaches differ, each of us will be encouraged to use our best efforts to create proposals that meet the fundamental needs of both of us and if necessary to compromise to reach a settlement of all issues. We commit our best efforts to using a problem solving, rather than a positional, approach to negotiation.
• Although each of us may discuss the likely outcome of a litigated result, none of us will use threats of litigation as a way of forcing settlement.
IX. DISCLOSURES AND CONFIDENTIALITY
While this matter is not being filed with the court, both parties shall nevertheless timely provide to each other their respective C.R.C.P. 16.2 Disclosures as provided under the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure and shall provide each other with any written authorizations requested which may be required in order to obtain information or documentation, or to prepare Qualified Domestic Relations Orders or other orders facilitating agreements reached. The parties and attorneys acknowledge and understand that honesty and the full disclosure of all relevant information is an integral factor in the success of a collaborative law case.
The negotiations between the parties in this matter are confidential. Documents provided during this collaborative process shall be held confidential by the parties, their attorneys, and all experts and consultants who participate in the process. Documents and statements produced herein are protected as settlement negotiations and shall not be used in any court proceeding, except as otherwise allowed under the law.
X. ATTORNEY AGREEMENT TO CONSULT
Both attorneys agree that should either of them believe there are difficulties in the collaborative process because of the behavior of either or both attorneys, they will consult with a member or members of the Boulder Collaborative Law Professionals. This consultation shall be without charge by either attorney to his or her client.
BOTH PARTIES AND LAWYERS HEREBY PLEDGE TO COMPLY WITH AND TO PROMOTE THE SPIRIT AND WRITTEN WORD OF THE ABOVE TERMS OF THIS DOCUMENT.
Dated: May 22, 2013