Collaborative Divorce

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What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which both spouses and their attorneys commit themselves to resolving their differences fairly and respectfully outside of the court system. Everyone on the team agrees in advance to remove litigation as an option, and to focus their energy on reaching creative solutions that meet the needs of the whole family.

How Does the Collaborative Divorce Process Work?

In the collaborative divorce process, each spouse is represented by a collaboratively trained attorney who serves as their independent advocate and legal advisor throughout the process. The spouses and their attorneys sign an agreement with each other promising that they will:

  • Stay out of court, and refrain from using threats of litigation as a negotiating tool
  • Voluntarily disclose all information – including financial information – that is relevant to the negotiation
  • Keep conflict to a minimum and work as a team to reach a settlement that takes both spouses’ needs and interests into account
Closeup of a young man an a young woman signing a prenuptial agreement

Other professionals may also be brought into the process to assist the couple. For instance, a neutral financial professional can assist with complex financial issues, and/or a mental health professional can assist with child-related issues, or help the couple with communications issues or emotional roadblocks to settlement.

Once the team is in place, the process unfolds in a series of meetings, each of which is guided by an agreed-upon agenda to keep the discussions efficient and on-topic. Through respectful communication, honest information exchange, and thorough exploration of each spouse’s needs and interests (as opposed to positions and demands), the team generates options for settlement and evaluates each option based on how well it serves the interests of both spouses and the children.

Is Collaborative Divorce Right for Me?

Collaborative divorce is a great option for couples who:

  • Want to maintain a civil and productive co-parenting relationship with each other post-divorce
  • Are willing to work together to find solutions that work for the whole family
  • Are willing to be transparent and voluntarily share all relevant information with each other
  • Want to keep the details of their divorce private, and retain control over decision-making, rather than ceding that control to a judge
  • Are looking for a faster and less expensive way to divorce than the court system can provide
  • Want more support from their attorneys than is typically available in mediation