THE COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE PROCESS
The Collaborative Divorce Process is very different from traditional divorce litigation, which is inherently adversarial. Collaborative Divorce is a voluntary process that employs a true “team approach” to resolving a couple’s disputes, and helps them shape a final resolution that best accomplishes the goals of their changing family.
The spouses and professionals begin by signing a written Participation Agreement, in which each participant expresses their commitment to the Collaborative Process. The spouses also agree to voluntarily disclose all relevant and material information to each other, so that they can engage in informed and meaningful discussions regarding their case.
A series of meetings is scheduled with both spouses and their team. Generally, an agenda is established by agreement prior to each meeting. The spouses agree to use good faith efforts to reach a fair and equitable settlement on each issue. Each spouse will have the opportunity to express their concerns, their goals, and provide input each step of the way, with the guidance and advice of their attorney. As needed, other collaboratively-trained professionals may attend the meetings, including financial professionals, mental health professionals, divorce coaches, and child specialists. Commonly addressed issues include defining parenting time schedules for divorcing families in transition, as well as how the spouses will divide assets and debt obligations.
To ensure that the spouses can discuss their settlement in good faith and in a safe space, the Collaborative Process requires that all of the professionals, including attorneys, are disqualified from representing either spouse in the event the collaborative process breaks down and the case must be litigated in the court system. This may occur if one or both spouses choose to discontinue the collaborative process and proceed to litigation, or if one or both spouses act in a manner that is contrary to the collaborative team-oriented approach or in contrast to the Participation Agreement.
If the spouses are able to resolve all of their issues using the Collaborative Process, their attorneys will prepare documentation regarding their settlement and work with the couple to finalize the process in the court system.