What is Collaborative Divorce?

In a collaborative divorce, parties work together to avoid having to go through adversarial and contested court hearings. This alternative method of divorce begins with the parties and their respective lawyers entering into a participation agreement to employ cooperative techniques. The goal is to resolve all issues without any court intervention. The approach is non-adversarial, and there is no litigation.

The goals of a collaborative divorce are as follows:

The issues will be settled using an interest-based negotiation;
The lawyers will assist the parties in reaching settlement;
The best interests of children will be the utmost goal in settlement and because of this, the acts of the parties must always promote such a relationship that will not cause emotional damage to their children;
There will be fair and constructive communication will be used during the process.
The parties may hire neutral experts;
There will be no unilateral changes made in the assets, insurance coverage, and other related matters without the consent of the other.

The Lawyers Role in a Collaborative Divorce

The lawyers guide their respective client through the process. The lawyers have the duty to manage the conflict in order for the parties to achieve settlement.

Neutral experts role in Collaborative Divorce

The presence of neutral experts is one of the most significant features of collaborative divorce. The experts are jointly retained by the parties to help with matters that require their expertise (e.g. mental health counseling, financial advisory, business valuation, real estate appraisal, etc.). Because the experts are regarded as neutral, they are more likely not to favor one party over the other. They can therefore help the parties to create fair settlement options.

Expenses of Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce can also be less expensive since everyone is working together to resolve the case. Depositions and unnecessary court hearings can be avoided.

Children are shielded in a Collaborative Divorce

Most importantly, children are not dragged into court! The parties, through their agreement, make it a point to make the negotiation proceedings less emotional for their children.

What happens after a Collaborative Divorce Agreement is signed?

Once an agreement is reached, the attorneys draft an agreement for the parties to review. After the agreement is signed, it is filed with the Court along with an “uncontested” Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. A brief non-adversarial hearing (not more than 10 minutes) may be required to finalize the case to obtain a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.