Attorneys as Non-Adversarial Negotiators
In a cooperative divorce negotiation each client hires his or her own attorney to give legal advice and act as the primary spokesperson for the client in a non-adversarial negotiated out-of-court settlement. The cooperative negotiation attorneys and clients commit to keeping the process amicable and reasonable. The clients decide by mutual agreement whether the dominant negotiation framework will be the law, the parties’ needs and interests, or a combination of both. Each attorney prepares the mandatory disclosure forms and document production for his or her own client. When a settlement is reached, one of the cooperative attorneys writes it up as a Marital Settlement Agreement, the other attorney reviews it with his or her client, and revisions are negotiated until the agreement is finalized.
Negotiations Between Attorneys or in Four-Way Meetings
The cooperative negotiation may be conducted through attorney-to-attorney conferences (at which the clients are not present) or in four-way meetings attended by both attorneys and clients. When participating in four-way negotiation meetings, the clients may take breaks to meet privately with their own attorneys for confidential one-on-one conferences.
Cooperative Attorneys May Represent their Clients in Court
If the case does not settle, either client is legally allowed to hire his or her cooperative negotiation attorney to represent his or her client in court; But some cooperative negotiation attorneys do not include court litigation in their law practice services. Although they are allowed to represent their clients in court, the cooperative negotiation attorney’s duty during the cooperative negotiation is to use best efforts to focus solely on working toward a fair settlement agreement, not on preparing the case for trial.
Advantages of Cooperative Divorce
Cooperative negotiation keeps divorce settlement proposals respectful, calm and constructive instead of combative. Each client may meet alone with his or her cooperative negotiation attorney as often as desired to get legal advice throughout the case. The client may opt to let his or her own cooperative negotiation attorney do all the talking in four-way negotiation meetings or the client may speak for himself or herself as much as feels comfortable.