When a couple decides to separate or divorce, they must find a way to resolve their differences on all relevant issues. Collaborative Family Law is a process in which participants to a family law matter agree at the outset to work, along with counsel, to resolve family disputes without resort to litigation. Parties hire collaborative attorneys and contract with them to resolve family issues without formal discovery or resort to litigation. See a list of Collaborative lawyers at the Collaborative Law Institute of Missouri.

Collaborative law empowers spouses to dissolve their marriage with dignity. Consider Collaborative law if you and your spouse:

  • believe it is important to protect your children from the harm litigation can inflict

  • place a high value on personal responsibility in resolving conflict

  • are able to focus on a positive solution for the entire family want to preserve a respectful working relationship during and after the process is over

  • see the need to disclose full and accurate information about financial issues


Each party hires a specially trained collaborative attorney, and other collaborative professionals as needed, and all work together in a cooperative, non-adversarial process with one goal: to achieve a mutually acceptable agreement.

You and the other party and your respective attorneys promise in writing to voluntarily disclose all financial and other relevant information, to proceed respectfully and in good faith as you negotiate toward a settlement. All of you also promise to refrain from the threat or use of litigation.

A key component of a successful collaborative process is the four-way meeting. It's a structured setting in which both parties and their attorneys communicate and negotiate directly with one another.

The four-way meeting - and the whole collaborative process - is a team approach to resolving family law disputes. If and when you need additional collaborative professionals, such as mental health or financial specialists, you bring them into the process.

Because everyone involved is committed to voluntarily disclosing necessary information, formal discovery tools, such as depositions, written interrogatories, or subpoenas, are unnecessary. And there is no place for argumentative, accusatory, or threatening letters between attorneys.

When a settlement is reached, attorneys file the appropriate paperwork required by the court.

The concept of Collaborative Law was created in 1991 by Stuart Webb, a Minnesota attorney. Stuart Webb observed the court system's failure to serve the needs of the parties and their children in dissolutions and family disputes. He believed a better way was for the parties and the lawyers to work together to resolve the financial and custody issues of a divorce rather than engage in a court battle to defeat each other.


  • You retain control. Though you each have a lawyer, you and your spouse take responsibility for shaping the settlement as the key members of the team.

  • You gain support. You craft the settlement cooperatively with your spouse while benefiting from your attorney's advocacy, problem-solving, and negotiating skills. You receive insight and support from other professionals who assist in identifying your interests and your children's needs.

  • You can focus on settlement. Removing the threat of "going to court" reduces anxiety and fear, thereby helping you focus on finding positive solutions.

  • You lay groundwork for a better future. There is no pain-free way to end a marriage, but by reducing stress, working in a climate of cooperation, and treating each other with respect, you and your spouse are creating an environment in which you and your children can thrive.

  • You get more from your resources. The collaborative process is usually less costly and time-consuming than litigation. When you reach an agreement, it can be finalized within a shorter time frame. You do not get bogged down for months while you wait for a court date.

  • You negotiate a better settlement. Every family is unique and every family deserves a unique solution to the issues raised in a separation or divorce proceeding. The collaborative process produces final agreements that are frequently more detailed and complete than any order that would be issued by a judge after a contested court proceeding.

The heart of Collaborative Law is the belief, shared by the couple and their attorneys, that it is in their best interest and in the best interest of the family to resolve differences with minimal conflict and without going to court.

James Piedimonte has been trained in the Collaborative Law process. He can help you negotiate a better settlement without litigation. Call today.