We Help Find The Better Way

Collaborative law, also called collaborative practice or collaborative divorce, is a unique multi-disciplinary approach to resolving issues related to divorce or separation without court intervention.

Christy, Keith & Donnell Family Law Group, P.C. works hard to help our clients avoid the emotional and financial costs of litigation.

An attorney representing a client in a collaborative practice case has a duty distinct from the traditional adversarial role.  The attorney works closely with a client to advise him or her throughout the process, always with an eye toward the best resolution for the family. Collaborative practice differs from mediation in that each party has an attorney and the support of a mental health coach in the room. The attorneys for both parties play a key role in helping their clients come to terms that are favorable to both sides.

Note that some attorneys call themselves “collaborative attorneys,” because they see themselves as reasonable negotiators when applying the law to a client’s case and dealing with opposing counsel. However, an attorney trained in Collaborative Practice has fulfilled the ongoing training and education in collaborative practice and mediation in order to work with other such attorneys in this unique model.

Collaborative law is distinct in that:

  • Each party works with their own collaborative attorney, who works to understand the client’s needs and balance those with the needs of the family.
  • Most negotiations take place with the attorneys, mental health coaches, and the clients in the room.
  • Collaborative attorneys contractually agree to avoid litigation, not go to court, and not threaten court involvement as a negotiation tactic.
  • Both parties sign an agreement committing to open communication and information sharing. Hiding the ball is not allowed, thereby often preventing unnecessary and costly discovery.

Most cases also include a financial neutral and two mental health professionals who serve as coaches for each party. When appropriate, the team will include a child specialist who addresses the psychological and developmental needs of the children and, if necessary, meets with the children to understand their needs better. The goal is to arrive at the best resolution for the entire family. Neutral financial experts may also be included when necessary to value a house, a business, or a retirement plan.

As collaborative attorneys, we act as an ally and advocate for our clients. We help facilitate negotiations, generate options, advise on applicable law, ensure an open process, and assure our client’s needs are adequately addressed by the resolution.

For such important transitions as divorce or child custody, we believe collaboration is frequently the best way for clients to reconcile conflicts and preserve relationships, while maintaining control of the process.

Contact Us

From our offices in Oakland , we represent clients throughout the Bay Area. Call us today at in Oakland at 510-617-0479 Or You can also send an email to request an opportunity to meet with one of our attorneys.