Minnesota attorney, Stu Webb, developed this alternative process for resolving family issues in 1990 to give spouses a way to end their marriages cooperatively, face-to-face, with the help and guidance of attorneys, but without going to court. He has said, “Collaborative law is the art and practice of settling cases with legal counsel, but without court intervention at any stage.”
All negotiations take place in four-way conferences between parties and their attorneys. Each party has built-in legal advice and advocacy during negotiations and each attorney is committed to guiding the parties toward a reasonable settlement. Because no one, neither the parties and nor the attorneys, can go to court or threaten to go to court, settlement is the only goal. The parties are encouraged and helped to communicate their real needs and interests. Through safe and focussed discussions, each of the parties is encouraged to recognize the needs of their children and the needs and interests of the other party.