COLLABORATIVE PRACTICE GROUP
The New Mexico Collaborative Practice Group (NMCPG) is a nonprofit association of lawyers, financial professionals and mental health professionals formed in 2001, after recognizing the value of collaborative practice to families. We join together to promote this new and valuable process that constructively resolves family law issues. NMCPG is not a partnership or any other business entity. Each member is an individual practitioner of their own profession.
Collaboration Makes Sense
Divorce and other family law disputes are emotionally difficult by nature. A confrontational family law matter can inflict severe, long-lasting wounds on spouses and children.
Though many divorce attorneys attempt to minimize the harmful effects of a dissolved relationship, traditional court divorce often involves a legal fight in court. Therefore, it becomes the attorney's job to use the available legal tools and negotiation strategies. All too often, these tools become weapons in a painful divorce process.
In addition to emotional and psychological costs, traditional court divorce cases are usually expensive, especially those that result in trial or a contested hearing.
Approximately 98 percent of all court divorce cases settle, meaning the court does not decide the outcome because the parties have already reached an agreement. But settlements usually come only after months of costly conflict, the hiring of polarized experts and the expense of preparing for a trial that is unlikely to occur. These settlement agreements are often reached just before the scheduled trial date and under time constraints, leaving clients dissatisfied with the results and more likely to go back to court.
Collaborative professionals recognize there's a better way.
The Collaborative process helped a couple to consider the needs of their son and recognize the value of each other’s contribution to their family.
The History of Collaborative LawIn 1990, a family law attorney named Stu Webb of Minneapolis, Minnesota struggled with the stress and dissatisfaction he felt being part of the traditional family law process. He took a stand and "disarmed," promising he would no longer fight in court on behalf of divorce clients.
Webb committed himself to helping his clients settle their issues through negotiation, convinced it would avoid the damaging consequences of going to court. If any party chose to go to court, he would withdraw from the case and refer the client to another attorney.
In order to promote freedom for more creative settlements, Webb concluded that a formal written agreement was necessary. Both lawyers and both parties sign the agreement, committing the four to negotiate in good faith, and requiring the lawyers to withdraw from the case if it is to be carried to the courtroom. Webb became the first to call himself a collaborative attorney and others soon followed.
The collaborative movement continues to grow rapidly, spurred by professionals who desire a change in the practice of family law. Numerous collaborative practice groups have formed across the United States, as well as internationally. Collaboration is also occurring in probate and medical malpractice matters.