Collaborative Divorce*

I recently participated in a Collaborative Divorce training seminar.  Many of you may have not heard of the concept of “Collaborative Divorce (CD),” but the basic concept of CD is to avoid litigation in the divorce settlement and arrive at a settlement which is agreeable and pain-free for all involved.  With Collaborative Divorce you usually have a team of professionals ready to help and represent you.  The team normally consists of two attorneys (once for each client) , a coach and a financial planner.  You might be thinking that this process would be more expensive than litigation, but in reality the Collaborative process usually results in complete agreement much sooner than a couple  would in a contested process. Professional efforts are directly related to the clients’ needs and the time necessary for them to negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement with the assistance of their CD team.  Also, clients may openly discuss and disclose their costs of the process.  Some CD practices use a mediator for both clients. Collaborative Divorce is particularly interested in the welfare of the children and strives to make the divorce process as easy on them as possible. Research has shown that conflict and hostility between parents, an almost inevitable consequence of adversarial litigation, is damaging to children. Collaborative divorce is suitable for both heterosexual and gay couples and can be used in pre- and post-nuptial agreement discussions as well.

What are the advantages of Collaborative Divorce?

  • First the client needs to be assured that the lawyers and other professionals on their team will provide service consistent with their individual and mutual settlement goals and objectives. The goal is to avoid conflicts which will probably arise.
  • Legal information and advice remains paramount to the process.
  • All mental health professionals, coaches and mediators are to remain neutral in resolving family matters. Child specialists may be brought into the discussion if necessary.  The financial specialist will also remain neutral in her role.
  • CD significantly increases the likelihood that clients can resolve their issues, while preserving a positive post-separation relationship and avoiding post-judgment returns to court.
  • CD is designed to minimize hostility and conflict, and to instead refocus the clients on constructive approaches to arrive at mutually acceptable outcomes.
  • With CD, the couple is able to craft the eventual outcome that meets their particular interests, not just their legal entitlements, so there is no reason to fear in imposed judicial decision or pressured last minute compromise.
  • CD is extremely flexible and allows the clients to explore creative solutions to both their short and long-term problems.  There is no need to worry about traditional negotiations  or court-imposed results.
  • CD maximizes the client’s privacy.  In contrast to publicly filed motions and open court hearings, the information sharing, communication and negotiations in the process occurs in private meetings.

I will write more about the advantages of Collaborative Divorce in additional articles.  I just want to say that I am very enthusiastic about this method of problem solving for divorcing couples because it minimizes the acrimony while making sure that both the husband and the wife’s needs are met  while always centering on the needs of the children first and foremost.

*IACP, Introductory Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice *(Locale?:2015)