In the Collaborative Divorce approach, a professional team supports couples through the emotional aspects of divorce as they resolve the legal and financial issues. Both husband and wife retain an attorney who has had Collaborative Divorce training. The parties and lawyers all sign a commitment to reach a settlement without going to court.
Depending on the circumstances, other members of the Collaborative team may include divorce coaches, financial professionals, mediators, or a child specialist – all of whom are trained and committed.
Collaborative Divorce focuses on the future and puts children first.
Both spouses and their attorneys begin by signing a written agreement not to go to court. A series of meetings is then scheduled, with both parties and their attorneys. During these meetings, the couple works together to reach an honest and equitable settlement.
Although the attorneys are there to advise and assist, the couple negotiates property, parenting time, spousal support and other concerns. The couple agrees to honest and full disclosure of information, and to remain respectful of each other throughout the process. As needed, other collaboratively-trained professionals may attend the meetings, including financial professionals, mediators, and accountants. Neutral experts such as appraisers, CPA pension specialist and mortgage lenders may also provide valuable information and expertise to both parties.
Both parties may have a personal advisor--a psychologist or other mental health professional, called a divorce coach--to help them manage the emotional ups and downs of the divorce process. If negotiations break down – or if either party decides to abandon the process or acts in an adversarial way that precludes an amicable settlement – all members of the Collaborative divorce team, including both attorneys, must resign from the case. This provides a powerful incentive to continue with the often challenging job of crafting a settlement which feels fair to all members of the family. It also allows the professionals to focus all their efforts on settlement considerations.
The Collaborative approach encourages good–faith problem solving and constructive communication to reach a settlement agreeable to both parties. In the Collaborative approach, new parenting relationships can get off to a positive start when parents actively plan together for their children’s restructured family times.