Questions and Answers about Collaborative Law

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is an alternative dispute resolution method in Family Law where you and your spouse commit to an out of court negotiated outcome.  You, not the court or attorneys, direct the time table and control the final decisions.The collaborative process encourages mutual respect and self-esteem, allows both parties to participate in an open and meaningful way, and emphasizes the needs of the children. 

What is a Collaborative Team?

A team of specially trained and compassionate professionals guide you and your spouse through the divorce negotiations as you work together to determine the future well-being of your family.  Each of you will have a Collaborative Attorney who will advise you on legal matters and work toward a mutually acceptable settlement.  A Divorce Coach, a collaboratively trained mental health professional, will facilitate effective communication, manage the process, and help you deal with the painful emotions that may arise throughout the negotiations.  A Child Specialist may be invited onto the team to address specific needs of the children and to help strengthen healthy parent-child relationships both during and post-divorce.  A financial neutral may also be included to assist you with financial decisions and options for the future.

What is the cost?

Costs are usually less expensive than litigation.  There are no excessive court fees, agreements are typically reached in less time, and team experts are used efficiently.

What about privacy?

The process and details are kept private within the collaborative team.

Is this mandatory?

No.  Both parties must agree to resolve their divorce collaboratively.  Each will sign a voluntary participation agreement committing to the principles of collaborative divorce.

I’m pretty angry with my spouse. How can I work through those feelings and come to the table to negotiate?

Your first intensive meeting is one on one with your Divorce Coach, who will help you come to terms with your issues.  The Divorce Coach will work with you so that you can let your spouse know, in a controlled setting, why you are angry and hurt.  During the collaborative process those feelings may recur, and the professionals will help you to deal with them so that you can effectively negotiate.

How do I get started?

First share the materials on Collaborative Divorce with your spouse.  The materials will include a list of attorneys and mental health professionals trained in the collaborative method.  Each selects an attorney and a mental health professional and makes initial appointments to discuss whether or not this method would be a good fit for you.  When you are both ready to move forward, you meet with your spouse and both Divorce Coaches to draw up a list of values and goals.  Then the team as a whole meets with you both in a series of meetings to help you resolve the issues that you face in dissolving your marriage.

What happens if we can’t agree?

If one or the other of you feels that you will not reach a settlement agreement, you are free to stop the collaborative process.   None of the professionals will help you to start or work on the litigation process, nor will any of the work done by the team be discoverable.  Any agreement signed by both parties will survive the process.