At the beginning of a collaborative case, one of the most important tasks is for both parties to sign a participation agreement. A participation agreements sets forth all the terms of the collaborative process.
This document is signed at the beginning of the collaborative process. There are many different terms normally part of a participation agreement. Below are some of them in a general sense:
First, both parties agree to engage in the process in good faith. They are asserting that they want to participate in the collaborative process.
Second, they are agreeing that if they do not settle in the collaborative process, that they will have to hire new counsel to litigate their case because their lawyers are hired on a limited scope representation.
Third, they are agreeing to not have any court involvement. In other words, they agree to settle their case outside of court in the collaborative process.
Fourth, they are agreeing to voluntary and full disclosure. This will negate the need for formal discovery that is needed in traditional discovery.
Fifth, the parties understand that there is no guarantee the case will settle. Thus, caution has to be exercised in that a settlement does not always happen.
Sixth, the parties agree that they may use other professionals to assist in the process. This includes a divorce coach or coaches, finance professional, child custody professional and others.
Finally, other items are agreed upon from the fact that both parties will incur fees and costs and will have to sign agreements to pay these costs. Among other items, terms relative to confidentiality and privilege also agreed upon.
To better understand how a participation agreement works, you can view a sample participation agreement here: Sample Participation Agreement.