A collaborative divorce is a divorce settled completely outside of the court system. At the start, both spouses agree not to threaten or bring legal action, and this promise helps keep the process non-adversarial and focused on mutual benefit. The attorneys’ roles are not to fight for their clients in the traditional sense, but rather to help find solutions and ensure their clients’ rights are protected.
How does a collaborative divorce work?
When spouses agree to a collaborative divorce, they each retain an attorney who they will meet with prior to the process beginning. The spouses and their attorneys will then meet together to begin negotiations.
Depending on the preferences of the spouses, the process may be highly formalized with a strict agenda or maintain a more informal feel. Multiple negotiation sessions may be needed in more complex divorces and may also be beneficial as a cooling off period if emotions are high. During the sessions, the focus is on moving beyond any past differences and working together to find an agreement that will bring the greatest benefit to all.
What are the benefits of a collaborative divorce?
- Avoid costly and expensive litigation
- Have complete control over the process and outcome instead of having an outcome suggested or mandated by a third party
- Allow children and other family members to have their voices heard when appropriate
- Focus on mutual benefit instead of getting back at the other spouse to help healing
- Reduced tension that might negatively affect relationships with children, extended family, or mutual friends