Leave it to those entrepreneural Yanks. A collaborative law expert from the U.S., Pauline Tesler, is training lawyers in the U.K. in collaborative law techniques. Here’s a story about it from The Guardian. The article quotes Tesler as selling collaborative law with these words: “‘If you would rather give up the right to dance at your daughter’s wedding for another Â£ 20,000 on the settlement, there are lawyers down the street who would love to help you, and you’ll send their child to university – not yours,’ she tells them.”
The problem with this appeal, as I have said before, is that it makes sense only if the only other alternative is a bloody, expensive, adversarial divorce. From my perspective, however, where I know that most couples don’t need to spend thousands of dollars (or pounds) getting divorced, collaborative law and collaborative divorce often look like just another way to turn divorcing couples upside down and shake all the money out of their pockets.
Instead of sitting down together and working through the comparatively simple issues most divorcing couples face, the collaborative law model encourages each to visit with his or her own lawyer first, then for them to sit down with their lawyers and each other for as long as it takes to work through all the issues that need to be resolved. A process that could take perhaps $400 becomes one that costs more like $2,000, with the lawyers as the main beneficiaries and the divorcing spouses as the main losers.
As an alternative to adversarial divorce, collaborative divorce makes sense. As an alternative to uncontested divorce, it’s abusive and wasteful.