Collaborative Divorce is an alternative to the traditional court divorce process. It is an agreement by both spouses and their attorneys to be civil, to not go to court, and to work with a team of experts to reach a settlement that benefits everyone involved and takes into consideration each spouse’s long-term plans.
You don’t have to get along with your spouse to do Collaborative Divorce; you just need to be willing to try, and the team will help with the rest.
See how a collaborative divorce compares to a traditional court divorce.
The Collaborative Divorce Process
Collaborative Divorce occurs in “cycles”.
Prior to the cycle beginning, you and your spouse each hire an attorney. Then, you and your spouse jointly hire the team members: financial planner/CPA, child specialist, and coach. You can find a list of potential team members on the Collaborative Law Institute website, but your attorneys are always happy to recommend someone if you'd like. Next, you work with your attorney to prepare for the initiation meeting. At the initiation meeting, you and your spouse discuss divorce process goals, outcome goals, and sign the participation agreement.
The first cycle starts after everyone signs the participation agreement. It includes both of you meeting with each team member to explore your financial options, parenting options, and get assistance with communication, if necessary. This can be one meeting per team member or a couple meetings depending on your needs. Then the cycle ends when all of the team members, attorneys, you and your spouse come together for a joint meeting to discuss settlement options and reach agreements.
If you reach an agreement on everything, then a stipulated judgment and decree is drafted by one of the attorneys. If there are outstanding topics of disagreement, then you and your spouse go through another cycle that starts with individual meetings with team members and ends with another joint meeting.
And so on the cycle repeats until there is an agreement on all divorce terms.