Collaborative Divorce is a process for resolving family law disputes such as in divorce and domestic partnership where two parties work with a team of professionals to craft their own agreements. Clients work together in a respectful way, keeping in mind the importance of protecting their children and other involved people from conflict. Clients and professionals gather the information needed to reach an agreement. The goal is a win/win situation for all participants. Decisions are made by the clients without the going to court or involving a judge or other third-party decision maker.
Typically, clients and professionals meet together to plan for information gathering, make interim arrangements, and discuss concerns. A team will be assembled based on the participants’ needs and will include lawyers and typically, communications coaches and child specialists (both roles are filled by mental health professionals), financial experts, and other professionals as needed. Information gathered will be shared with the other clients and professional team members in order to clarify each participant’s interests and stimulate ideas for possible solutions. Everyone agrees that all communications made during the Collaborative Process will remain confidential and will not be used as evidence if the case later leaves the Collaborative Process.
A settlement which meets the approval of all clients can then be fashioned. This method of handling conflict is designed to minimize hostility and allow the participants the possibility of a cordial relationship in the future.
The guiding principles of Collaborative Divorce are that the clients and Collaborative professionals agree at the outset that the case will be settled by themselves, without decisions imposed by a judge or other third-party decision maker. If the entire case cannot be settled, the lawyers and other professionals must withdraw, and, if requested, the lawyers will assist the participants in making the transition to traditional representation. In the unusual case that moves from the Collaborative forum, it is common that some of the disputes have been resolved and a written agreement has been signed. This limits the questions to be decided by a judge or other third-party decision maker and may lay the groundwork for a more effective way of clients working together and resolving their differences in the future.
Collaborative Divorce is a better way to untie the knot.