Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative Divorce is a respectful, out-of-court, process to settle divorce and family disputes.  It is a voluntary choice for settlement instead of an involuntary choice for court battles in an adversarial litigation process.

In the Collaborative Process trained Collaborative Professionals assist their clients to seek and reach resolutions that consider the individual's as well as the family's needs and interests. The Collaborative Professionals guide the Process and the clients decide their future.  The Collaborative Professionals are on your settlement team and from day one, your dollars are spent seeking a resolution that is acceptable to everyone in your family.

Collaboration is future focused. The parties and their attorneys meet face-to-face in a series of meetings to gather and exchange information and ideas to resolve their family’s disputes.

Advantages of Collaboration

  • Effective.

    More than 90% of Collaborative Cases reach agreements to resolve some or all issues. Cases proceed on the clients’ timetable. When parties avoid unilateral actions and meet regularly, misunderstanding can be resolved quickly since everyone shares and hears the same information at the same time.

  • May save time
    and money.

    Typical Collaborative cases, when parties stay committed and engaged in the process, resolve in approximately 6-7 meetings and in approximately 6-9 months, depending on the needs and desires of the clients. Using the Collaborative Divorce Team, you get legal, emotional and financial support from the least expensive expert with the most experience, when the service is needed.

  • Private and confidential.

    Collaborative meetings are held in the professionals’ offices, not in open court. By agreement and statute through the Uniform Collaborative Law Act, discussions and interactions during meetings are confidential to encourage open, honest, and frank discussions with consideration given to each spouse’s interests, goals, needs, fears or concerns.

  • Voluntary.

    It takes two to Collaborate.  The Collaborative Process starts when both parties agree to participate in the process, each hires their own Collaborative attorney and sign a Collaborative Participation Agreement committing to no court, to being respectful, to providing full disclosure and transparency and making decisions that take into account the interests, goals, and needs of each other and everyone in the family.

  • Decreases stress and disruptions.

    Even when discussions are vigorous, Collaborative meetings are non-adversarial with the necessary Collaborative Professionals present. Meetings are scheduled in advance with Agendas so everyone can be prepared and emotionally ready to use the time together efficiently and effectively.

  • Children may experience less stress and disruptions.

    The anxiety and uncertainty of the adversarial court system, where a judge makes decisions affecting the children’s future, is removed. A Collaborative Child Specialist helps the children express their fears, needs, and concerns so the parents, coaches, and attorneys can make the best arrangements for the entire family. Parents are better able to share family events without creating discomfort for the children and themselves.

  • Improves skills for resolving disputes.

    The Collaborative Professionals help create an atmosphere of cooperation and model communication and problem solving skills that continue beyond the signing of the settlement agreement. Parents are better equipped to handle disputes should they arise in the future.

  • Preserves or improves relationships.

    Collaborative participants commit to consider each others point of view. With the safe sharing of interests, goals, needs, fears and concerns, comes improved communication skills. Historically, three to four percent (3%-4%) of couples participating in the Collaborative Process reconcile and the others are better able to address and resolve future issues.

  • Durable agreements and greater compliance.

    Parties are more likely to abide by agreements they develop.  Collaborative Agreements emerge from the parties’ hard work and commitment to seeking and sharing all relevant information, considering each others interests, goals and needs, and reaching agreements that are acceptable to everyone in the family.

Additional Considerations

Selecting Collaboration is:
  • voluntary and requires both parties to hire Collaborative attorneys
  • a choice not to proceed in court while in the Collaborative Processes
  • hiring a Collaborative attorney for the Collaborative Process who is disqualified from representing you in contested court battles
  • made after discussing with an attorney, the benefits and risks of the Collaborative Process as compared to the other processes such as litigation (court battles), mediation, arbitration or expert evaluation.

“If you or someone you know has prayerfully concluded that separation or divorce is inevitable, yet are seeking a respectful alternative to traditional divorce, property division, custody, visitation, co-parenting, or child and spousal support litigation, then consider the Collaborative Divorce Process."

Cheryl Watson Smith, Esq.