VIRGINIA COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE LAW
Collaborative divorce is a form of alternative dispute resolution and an alternative to traditional divorce litigation. At the core of the collaborative process is the Agreement to Withdraw. The parties and their attorneys commit to settling their case through the collaborative process and outside of litigation. Should the parties, at any time, choose to abandon the collaborative process, the attorneys must withdraw from representation, and cannot follow the parties into litigation.
The Collaborative process is a client-centered settlement process in which collaborative attorneys are specially trained. Because the process is centered around the needs of the parties and their families, the parties enjoy benefits they do not find in litigation, including:
(i) The ability to control the outcome of their case;
(ii) Working as quickly or as slowly as the parties desire without the need to adhere to the attorneys’ or court’s timetable;
(iii) Lower cost;
(iv) Consideration of both parties’ interests by all involved;
(v) Non-adversarial approach of the opposing counsel;
(vi) The ability to maintain healthy relationships with extended family and friends; and
(vii) The protection of their children and the ability to provide for their children’s happiness and wellbeing.
The collaborative divorce process in Virginia can take many forms depending upon the needs of the parties and their families. The parties have the option of engaging other collaborative professionals to assist in the resolution of their issues. The collaborative professions may include:
(i) Divorce Coaches to assist with communication issues and/or the emotions every party experiences as they divorce;
(ii) Child Specialists to help the parties understand their children’s adjustment needs and to formulate co-parenting plans;
(iii) Financial Advisors to help the parties understand their current financial status, to provide information and education, and to assist the parties in devising the best possible plan for their financial well-being.
The collaborative process is based upon the principles of transparency and integrity, which allow each party to look toward the future in a more confident and positive manner.
If you need help with a divorce in Virginia or child custody case in Virginia, contact the Virginia collaborative law & mediation center for help.
Our Virginia collaborative law attorneys have offices in Fairfax County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, Richmond City, Fredericksburg, Lynchburg County & Virginia Beach.
Chapter 41.1 – Virginia Administrative Dispute Resolution Act
- Virginia Code § 2.2-4115. Definitions.
As used in this chapter, unless the context requires otherwise:
“Dispute resolution proceeding” means any structured process in which a neutral assists parties to a dispute in reaching a voluntary settlement by means of dispute resolution processes such as mediation, conciliation, facilitation, partnering, fact-finding, neutral evaluation, use of ombudsmen or any other proceeding leading to a voluntary settlement. For the purposes of this chapter, the term “dispute resolution proceeding” does not include arbitration.
“Mediation” means a process in which a neutral facilitates communication between the parties and without deciding the issues or imposing a solution on the parties enables them to understand and resolve their dispute.
“Mediation program” means a program of a public body through which mediators or mediation is made available and includes the director, agents and employees of the program.
“Mediator” means a neutral who is an impartial third party selected by agreement of the parties to a dispute to assist them in mediation.
“Neutral” means an individual who is trained or experienced in conducting dispute resolution proceedings and in providing dispute resolution services.
“Public body” means any legislative body; any authority, board, bureau, commission, district or agency of the Commonwealth or any political subdivision of the Commonwealth, including counties, cities and towns, city councils, boards of supervisors, school boards, planning commissions, boards of visitors of institutions of higher education; and other organizations, corporations or agencies in the Commonwealth supported wholly or principally by public funds. “Public body” includes any committee, subcommittee, or other entity however designated, of the public body or formed to advise the public body, including those with private sector or citizen members and corporations organized by the Virginia Retirement System. For the purposes of this chapter the term “public body” does not include courts of the Commonwealth.
“State agency” or “agency” means any authority, instrumentality, officer, board or other unit of state government empowered by the basic laws to adopt regulations or decide cases. For the purposes of this chapter, the term “state agency” does not include the courts of the Commonwealth.
- Virginia. Code § 2.2-4116. Authority to use dispute resolution proceedings.
A. Except as specifically prohibited by law, if the parties to the dispute agree, any public body may use dispute resolution proceedings to narrow or resolve any issue in controversy. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit or limit other public body dispute resolution authority. Nothing in this chapter shall create or alter any right, action, cause of action, or be interpreted or applied in a manner inconsistent with the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.), applicable federal or state law or any provision that requires the Commonwealth to obtain or maintain federal delegation or approval of any regulatory program. Nothing in this chapter shall prevent the use of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act to obtain the disclosure of information concerning expenses incurred in connection with a dispute resolution proceeding or the amount of money paid by a public body or agency to settle a dispute.
B. A decision by a public body to participate in or not to participate in a specific dispute resolution proceeding shall be within the discretion of the public body and is not subject to judicial review. This subsection does not affect or supersede any law mandating the use of a dispute resolution proceeding.
C. An agreement arising out of any dispute resolution proceeding shall not be binding upon a public body unless the agreement is affirmed by the public body.