Working Collaboratively

Without going to court, the Collaborative Process helps clients to:

  • find creative solutions
  • retain dignity through open, cooperative, and respectful negotiations
  • preserve, to the extent possible, the opportunity to co-parent effectively
  • maintain healthy extended family relationships

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What is a collaborative divorce team?

In a collaborative divorce each person hires his own collaborative divorce attorney. While you may on occasion confer with your attorney separately, most of the process includes both parties, their lawyers, and other professionals working and meeting together. Your team might include:

  1. A financial specialist who assesses your financial situation and helps maximize the available assets to best meet the needs of the family. They help you avoid long-term pitfalls often related to divorce, such as the cost of home maintenance or detrimental tax ramifications. A financial specialist is trained as a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Family Planner, or Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.
  2. Communication Coaches who help you learn to communicate effectively and express individual needs, concerns, and priorities. Coaches can help to keep the process on track and not allow it to get derailed or bogged down by emotional issues. There may be one or two coaches depending on family needs. The communication coach cannot be the same person as a therapist with whom you have already been working.
  3. And, if children are involved, a child specialist who represents the best interests of the children and who is a voice for them. As part of the collaborative team process, the child specialist meets with the children, brings information to the team about the children?s needs and concerns, as well as developmental factors. The child specialist cannot be a therapist with whom you or your child has already been working.
How does a collaborative divorce team work?
You and the team will have a series of meetings to collect and share information, develop an understanding of critical issues for each person, and set priorities. You will meet with different members of the team depending on the issues to be addressed. For example, you may meet with your coach while your children are meeting with the child specialist; or, you may meet with your spouse and the financial specialist; ultimately, then, you have full team meetings with the attorneys, where all the information is shared and solutions are discussed. It is a fluid process with a commitment to open, respectful communication, and transparency.
What are the advantages of collaborating?
You start working on solutions very quickly. Your needs, your partner's needs, and the children's needs are considered. You work with the team in an honest, open and sincere manner, without the pressure of going to court. You are supported and protected by a team of professionals. You leave the process feeling better about yourself; your family's integrity remains intact; and, if children are involved, they benefit from a more amicable process.
What are the financial benefits collaborative divorce?
Collaboration, while requiring an early investment to hire the team of professionals, tends to cost less than a litigated divorce. By collaborating, information is collected easily and solutions are more quickly developed. The process avoids unnecessary controversy and expensive time in court.
How is collaboration from mediation?
Mediation and Collaboration are both interest based processes which empower participants to resolve their own disputes and avoid litigation. However, Collaboration requires full transparency of all relevant information. In other words, lawyers advise their clients openly, in front of the other client and lawyer, and do not strategize with their clients outside of the presence of the other parties. In Mediation, there is no requirement of full transparency. Lawyers advise their clients in private and strategize outside of the process. Furthermore, the mediator may not represent either party if an agreement is reached, so that each party must retain their own lawyer to represent them. By contrast, in a collaborative divorce, lawyers do represent their clients in the no-fault divorce.
How is litigation different from collaboration?
The Collaborative Divorce Process is very different from the litigation process. Litigation is more adversarial; conversations between you and your attorney are private and only selectively shared with the other parties. In collaboration, you have contracted with your attorney to engage in an open and transparent process, and your attorney will provide all of his/her advice and experience to you in front of the other party. Furthermore, your Collaborative attorney may NOT participate in any contested litigation. While your attorney only represents you, she/he is part of a team whose goal is to find an acceptable resolution for all involved, and thus, you have the benefit of your own attorney, the other party?s attorney, the coach(es), financial specialist, and child specialist, all working toward an acceptable resolution.
How do I get started with my collaborative divorce?
The first step is to contact an attorney who is collaboratively trained, (see our list of who we are). You will meet with your attorney and discuss your desire to collaborate. Then your spouse will have to choose an attorney who is collaboratively trained as well. Once each of you has agreed to engage in this process, a four-way meeting will be scheduled and then additional team members will be added as needed.

With the help of
highly trained
collaborative professionals, divorcing couples will:

  • Learn better ways of communicating and resolving conflict
  • Learn about the developmental needs of their children and how to work together to meet those needs
  • Be guided into reaching acceptable solutions regarding finances and division of property