Part 4: Skilled attorneys are essential to a successful Collaborative Divorce. A Collaborative Divorce is one in which the husband and the wife each retain a lawyer for settlement purposes only. When attorneys are required to work for settlement only, it is critical that they have the skill to negotiate successfully without the threat of going to court. Attorneys are generally trained to advocate for clients through use of argument and a variety of legal strategies, including the threat of court. Collaborative Divorce removes those tools from their toolbox, requiring the attorneys to use other, less damaging, conflict resolution methods. While the Collaborative Commitment–the agreement that the attorneys will withdraw if the matter goes to court–is designed to rein in some of these instinctive legal tactics, the withdrawal agreement by itself is not enough. If the attorneys are not skilled in helping clients achieve settlement without the use of arguments or threats, they may fall back on some of these old habits. In those situations, the Collaborative Commitment will not necessarily lead to better outcomes. Collaborative negotiating skill is, in my humble opinion, a rarer and more difficult skill for attorneys than argument and threat. So, how do clients find attorneys who possess this skill? In general, it is a combination of research and intuitive judgment. Through research most clients can find attorneys in their community with training and experience in Collaborative Divorce. In addition, most Collaborative attorneys will provide either free or low cost consultations to allow clients to gauge, first hand, whether they have the commitment and skill required to help them achieve success in a Collaborative Divorce. Finding the most suitable Collaborative attorney is, in many cases, only part of the equation. One of the great advantages of Collaborative Divorce is the ability to work with other professionals who are, in most instances, better suited to help clients achieve the best outcomes, and often at a lower cost. While divorce is a legal process, there are financial, parenting and communication elements that may, in the end, be more important and more complex than the legal elements. Having financial professionals and mental health professionals on the team that help clients achieve success in these areas, could be the most important factor in helping them achieve a better outcome. This information will be discussed in the upcoming blogs. However, if you want information on this now, go to www.collaborativelaw.org and www.ousky.com. Read Part 5, here.