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Understanding Attorney Withdrawal


A collaborative divorce is different from a conventionally adversarial divorce. One of the distinctive features of a collaborative divorce is the attorney withdrawal provision allowing attorneys and clients to approach divorce more like a business deal.

The Withdrawal Provision

When a collaborative divorce begins, both sides sign an agreement that includes an attorney withdrawal provision. That means if the collaborative process fails and the divorcing couple decided to resolve issues in court, they must hire new attorneys to represent them. Sometimes lawyers and their clients do not understand why this is important, but it actually benefits all involved parties significantly.

How the Withdrawal Provision Helps During Collaboration

For the collaborative process to succeed, all parties must be invested in its success, including the lawyers. When clients agree to a collaborative withdrawal provision, they affirm their  commitment to a negotiated settlement. Of course, with withdrawal provisions in place, the divorcing couple becomes more invested in the process because of the potential cost and time involved in hiring new attorneys if they have to go to court. For collaborative attorneys, the only measure of success becomes reaching a good agreement for your client.  

The withdrawal provision also makes it easier for attorneys to focus respectfully on finding win-win agreements. Even though most cases eventually settle, when going to trial is a possibility, lawyers are focused on making their client look as good as possible and the other side as bad as possible. If the same attorneys could be used for collaboration and court, collaborative attorneys would have to think about how information  could be used to hurt or help their client in court.

The withdrawal provision allows both parties and attorneys to be candid and transparent during collaborative discussions and to use their skills finding mutually acceptable solutions and treating divorce as the transaction it is rather than a war to be won. 

What does this mean for my divorce? Although the withdrawal provision can be disconcerting, it benefits both sides and increases the likelihood of success during collaboration. If you want to explore the benefits of collaboration for you or someone you know, contact Irwin Kuhn of VKBAR Law.

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