It’s likely that you have heard the term “collaborative divorce” but what exactly does it mean?

A collaborative divorce is a process when you and your spouse hire attorneys to represent your individual interests to attempt to settle your divorce  understanding that neither of you can file a Complaint for Divorce during this negotiation process.  

Spouses and attorneys meet regularly to “conference” in an effort to gather information, discuss concerns and reach settlement.

More often then not, a divorce coach (therapist) is involved in the process and present at the conferences to assist the spouses (soon-to-be ex-spouses) to communicate with one another.  This person will assist the parties to develop healthy and better ways of communicating.  This is most beneficial when the spouses are raising children together (co-parenting).  

Typically in litigation, as soon as a spouse files a Complaint for Divorce, a motion is filed to address financial and parenting-time disputes.  Filing a motion has the impact of increasing angst and aggression about a matter that could have been thoroughly (perhaps peacefully) discussed in a settlement conference.

But, there is a catch!  The catch here is that if a spouse is dissatisfied with the collaborative process and files a Complaint, then the entire collaborative process stops and neither spouse is able to use their chosen collaborative attorney as their attorney for their litigated divorce. A new attorney must be retained for litigation since the advocacy involved in litigation is different from the holistic intentions of the collaborative process.

Collaborative divorce encourages the following: 

  • Open discussion about who will pay for what, or from which pool of money the professional fees will be paid.

  • Conferences on whichever immediate concern is facing your family at that moment. This process attempts to eradicate the adversarial nature of litigation.

Consider a holistic method of divorce, such as a collaborative divorce, where each person involved has the same goal:  to get to an amicable settlement.  

This is your life! This is your divorce!   

To learn more about Collaborative Divorce and whether your state permits it, go to the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. However, even if your state has not incorporated or memorialized the collaborative process, why couldn’t you develop your own similar peaceful process based upon the collaborative process that you, your spouse, and attorneys can follow?

In order to decide whether you want to try a collaborative divorce over litigation, ask yourself the following: 

  1. Is it important to you to have a peaceful (not great) relationship with your ex after divorce;

  2. Could you and your spouse use assistance with communicating (do unnecessary arguments get in the way of progress);

  3. Could you and your spouse use help to organize your disputed issues and to schedule meetings/exchange of information to address those issues. 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then your first step in your divorce just may be to agree with your spouse that neither of you will file for a divorce…until there is a signed settlement agreement as a result of the collaborative process. 

Love begins with you.