Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative Divorce is an alternative to the traditional court-based, “fight at all costs” litigation system of divorce. It generally costs less, takes less time, causes less stress, opens up possibilities and should be considered by every divorcing couple. It is not for everyone.

Collaborative Divorce is based on Collaborative Practice principles and the commitment to resolve all disputes out of court.

In a well-managed collaboration, each spouse is provided the opportunity to play a primary role in the creation, design, and implementation of a quality solution to their marital dissolution disputes in a controlled and emotionally safe process.  The alternative traditional court process requires judges to impose their solutions on both parties. In many instances, Court based decisions are rarely better than the Collaborative solutions – one size does not fit all.  Parties who design their own outcome can be better off than the traditional system. The emotional and financial costs of the traditional system will always take its toll on the family.

Clients Shape the Process

In a Collaborative Law case, each party selects a lawyer of their own choosing. Their attorney must be trained in Collaborative Law, as it requires a different mind-set than traditional lawyering. People trained in Collaborative Law describe it as a paradigm shift away from gladiator style divorce to settlement based divorce.

Clients Receive Guidance and Counseling within a Team-Based Approach

The Collaborative Team consists of the two clients and their lawyers, as well as a professional facilitator and/or financial expert, as needed.  Professional experts help the process move forward more quickly and easily and, unlike the attorneys, are neutral (not biased towards either side). All have extensive, specialized training as Collaborative Practitioners.

Is the Collaborative Process for me?

In deciding whether the collaborative process is right for you, consider:

  • Do you want to maintain control over the process and the outcome?
  • Is prioritizing the needs of your children paramount to you?
  • Are you willing to work creatively and cooperatively to solve problems?
  • Do you want to keep your personal and financial information private?

It Starts with a Pledge Not to Go to Court

Spouses and attorneys agree they will not take any contested issue to court.  Attorneys withdraw if an agreement can’t be reached or if one of you opts out of the collaborative process.

Why is this important?

    • Both of you can speak freely without worrying that what you say may be used against you in court.
    • This approach creates a “safe” environment in which the team can help both of you negotiate.
    • Because the commitment not to go to court is a formal agreement rather than just a promise, it builds more trust in the collaborative process, which helps both of you get the results you want.

It Requires Full Disclosure

Everyone agrees to openly share and exchange all information needed, and commits to:

  • Respond truthfully to questions and requests for paperwork
  • Clarify misunderstandings or errors in information provided

Why is this important?

Agreeing to provide the information is much less costly than either requesting or demanding formal discovery via your expensive lawyer, especially when you both already have it.

Your team’s financial professional helps guide both of you through the process, ultimately reducing the time and expense of gathering the financial information for you both.

Collaborative Family Law Provides Customized Results

In a well-managed collaboration, each spouse is provided the opportunity to play a primary role in the creation, design, and implementation of a quality solution to their marital dissolution disputes in a controlled and emotionally safe process.  The written document that describes the final divorce is called the settlement agreement.  Unlike a judge who is restricted by legal guidelines, in your collaborative divorce:

  • The Team works as a unit to help you both make decisions based on your specific values and needs
  • The process allows you both to be more creative and to generate more satisfying solutions for your family; and
  • Your agreement can incorporate the common goals of both of you for your family now and for issues that may arise in the future (such as education, health issues, moving homes, etc.).
  • The results in collaborative divorce are PRIVATE.
  • Sensitive family issues, personal information, and financial documents may be kept out of the public file and thereby the public record.

Divorce does not need to be synonymous with anger, broken families, and financial ruin.

Collaborative Divorce FAQs

For more information about Collaborative Divorce click here.

For a glossary of Family Law and Collaborative Divorce terms click here.