What is Collaborative Divorce?
“The goal is to create solutions that meet the needs of all family members, as opposed to pitting one spouse against the other.”
Collaborative divorce is an alternative to the traditional adversarial process. Each spouse must sign a contract that requires cooperation in disclosing financial or other relevant information. In addition, each spouse, with his or her attorneys, pledges to proceed respectfully and in good faith and not to threaten or use the court to decide issues.
How Does Collaborative Divorce Work?
Negotiations occur in settlement meetings using a structured process for gathering information and communication. The goal is to problem-solve solutions that meet the needs of all family members, as opposed to pitting the needs of one spouse against the other. For this reason, both spouses must agree to utilize the collaborative process and must specifically hire collaborative attorneys. If either spouse wants to take an issue in front of a judge, the collaborative process ends, both collaborative lawyers are disqualified and each spouse must hire a different lawyer or proceed without legal representation to complete a traditional divorce.
In collaborative divorce, a team of professionals is brought in to help address the emotional and non-financial aspects of divorce. For example, the collaborative team may include financial advisors and mental health professionals who serve as divorce coaches for each spouse and child specialists. The goal of all professionals is to educate and support each spouse in exploring settlement options and reaching an agreement that benefits all family members, including the children. For this reason, the resulting settlement of a collaborative divorce may be much different than what the law ordinarily prescribes.