August 13, 2013

What Does It Mean to Bring a Team?

Categories: Collaborative LawDivorce

Working Together Teamwork Puzzle ConceptThe creation of laws and courts was a huge step forward for society to resolve conflicts between its citizens peacefully. Without a doubt it has prevented vigilante justice.

But the foundation for using courts to resolve disputes has cast the parties in oppositional and adversarial roles. The model creates winners and losers, and becomes problematic when applied to families, as in the dissolution of marriage.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) has emerged over time to provide alternatives to the costly and cumbersome use of courts. One such model, that has proven to be very successful, is collaborative law. Alternatives to the harshness of court trials is not much different from the evolution of the treatment of cancer in the medical community. Cancer is a formidable foe, often fatal, that presents itself through a wide range of diseases, some easily treatable and others that are largely incurable.

Many of the earliest treatments used processes like chemotherapy and radiation which were, in themselves, very hard on the healthy body, and often resulted in the cure killing the patient. In a similar manner, divorce through the court system has also produced evidence of being harmed by the cure.

Fortunately, the development of collaborative practice has produced results that have had very beneficial effects upon those who have discovered the process. The Collaborative Law Institute was created here in Minnesota in 1990 by a small group of dedicated legal professionals who saw the need for offering an alternative to using the court system. The concept has spread, not only throughout the United States and Canada, but also throughout the world. It is being extended almost daily by avid practitioners to other areas of the law beyond the family.

The key to its nature, this process creates a team of professionals, including specially trained attorneys,  neutral financial experts, neutral family therapists and mental health coaches. Other resources may be brought in to assist parties in areas like real estate purchase and sale, mortgage financing, tax preparation and planning, and valuation of assets. This team functions to provide the parties with the best information needed to allow them to be in charge of creating their final agreement. Once this is done, the case is filed as a stipulated default, which means it can be reviewed and approved by a district court judge without requiring either party, or their attorneys, to ever set foot inside a courthouse.

The resolution seeks not to pit the parties against each other in a costly battle to decide who gets what, but rather allows the parties, through the support of their team, to reach the best decisions for their family needs.

What it means to bring a team, is that the battle is avoided. Parties are held to be the best equipped people to resolve their issues, instead of being driven by attorneys and judges. Most importantly, parties do not feel they are competing for custody with each other. They are not being assessed for their worthiness to be full time parents. They are not being told what the division of their property should look like. Much of the stress is reduced.

While this forward thinking approach does not work for everyone, for those who have the personal capacity to participate in a process that meets each of their needs, it is a godsend. It brings the practice of law back into being a healing profession. It is, quite simply, the right thing to do.

To learn more about this process, and to find professionals trained to provide these services visit us at

Bruce Peck

Bruce is one of the founding members of the Collaborative Law Institute.
Back in the Wonder Years, this small group was trying to figure out what a new way of practicing family law might look like. Today the collaborative law concept has exploded, not just throughout the United States, but also internationally. For over thirty years Bruce has continued to hone his skills to provide the highest quality of services to family law clients. He helps good people make tough choices during difficult times.

Bruce is a laid back and easy going person who listens well to others. He is a shameless optimist who can always see possibility and opportunity. Being very curious by nature, he is a voracious reader. His love for words has drawn him into being an avid poet.

Bruce’s skills supports clients interests without alienating their spouse. When the parties reach agreement, it is not under duress. They have the time to discuss all decisions with their attorneys before signing the agreement. Once completed, the stipulated divorce is filed with the court for a default hearing in which neither party, nor their attorneys, ever have to set foot inside a courthouse. Learn more at

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