This is the final step of a 12 step series that explains in detail how the Collaborative Law Process works. Click here for the previous step.
Once the participants have reached an agreement on all issues, the settlement agreement should be reduced to writing. The Collaborative team should coordinate which attorney will draft the settlement agreement, and then the participants and their attorneys will each have an opportunity to review the written agreement. When the agreement is acceptable to both participants, they will each sign the agreement in front of a notary.
For participants with minor children, it is important to come up with a parenting plan, which can be a separate agreement incorporated into the final collaborative settlement agreement. The parenting plan should consist of an access schedule that covers both a regular schedule and a holiday schedule. The parenting plan should also explain how the participants will make major decisions regarding the child(ren)’s religion, education, and health (i.e. make decisions together, one party has a tie-breaking vote, etc). When creating a parenting plan, the participants should also consider what to do in the event of emergencies, relocation of either parent, and phone calls between the child(ren) and the non-custodial parent.
A settlement agreement should resolve all financial issues of the participants. The agreement should include a provision for any real property owned by the participants, the household contents and other tangible personal property. Further, the agreement should include provisions about automobiles, bank accounts, retirements/pensions, and debts.
A settlement agreement that was reached through the Collaborative Process might also include a provision regarding the Collaborative Process to acknowledge that the parties negotiated in good faith in an effort to reach a resolution. Additionally, there might be a provision reaffirming the full disclosure by each participant.
The team members should discuss the logistics of signing the agreement. Some teams will schedule a full team meeting for the participants to sign the agreement, but other teams will have each participant sign the agreement in his or her respective attorney’s office.