Collaborative Divorce Process: What You Can Expect

The Collaborative Divorce ExperienceCollaborative Divorce Process is a unique problem solving divorce option that enables couples to resolve issues of divorce without going to court.  The cornerstone of this process is the use of an inter-disciplinary team of professionals who help the couple in all aspects of the divorce – legal, financial and emotional. Each spouse retains their own attorney specifically trained in the Collaborative Divorce Process, whose goal is to help create a workable settlement that protects the family from the damaging effects of conflict.  The team guides the couple to deeper and longer lasting resolutions through educated decision making focused on the family’s particular needs rather than forcing the typical cookie-cutter divorce judgment.

Many couples who hear about the Collaborative Divorce Process feel that it is not for them as they assume “collaborative” automatically means amicable.  This could not be further from the truth.  Collaborative attorneys have been trained to effectively work with couples that have considerable conflict— and these are often the couples that benefit from the process the most, avoiding significant emotional and financial burden that would result from methods like litigation.

The Participation Agreement that both attorneys and both spouses sign at the beginning of the Collaborative Divorce Process requires both parties to:

  • Exchange complete financial information so that each spouse can make well-informed decisions;
  • Maintain absolute confidentiality during the process, so that each spouse can feel free to express his or her needs and concerns;
  • Reach an agreement on all issues and concerns outside of contested court proceedings;
  • And avoid threats of litigation or adversarial procedures; and authorize the attorneys to use the written agreement to obtain a final court decree.

Thankful for a peaceful divorce

Furthermore, the Participation Agreement bars either attorney or any member of the Collaborative Team from ever litigating against the other party in court.  This ensures an open atmosphere and creates a safe space for both parties to share all or their concerns and feelings openly.

The Team approach is successful, because it uniquely lays a solid foundation for a future parenting partnership between spouses and between both parents and the children.  It creates an atmosphere of hope for the whole family: that the future together will be secure and smooth, even if the family has been restructured into two homes.

Many couples also worry about the costs associated with the Collaborative Divorce Process.  Though costs vary greatly from couple to couple based on their needs and the complexity of their divorce, statistics show that the average traditional contested divorce takes 18+ months to resolve (compared to 6-9 months for a Collaborative Divorce) and cost twice as much—even when compared to a Collaborative Divorce with a full team of professionals.  Moreover, because resolutions reached through the Collaborative Process are longer lasting and more tailored to the couple, the costs of post-judgment issues are largely eliminated (90% of litigated cases return to court, compared to only 10% of Collaborative cases).