What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative Divorce is a process that helps couples come to a mutually agreed upon, negotiated settlement without the threat of court. It offers divorcing couples a civilized and solutions-based approach to ending their relationship. Collaborative Divorce is not only a process that is based upon consideration and respect, but it keeps a divorcing or separating couple in control of the process, rather that giving that control over to a judge.
Because clients agree with their attorneys that they will not go to court, the process is more flexible and less adversarial. Each client has an advocate by their side but the negotiations focus on interests and solutions, rather than on positions and demands. The goal is to improve the couple's ability to communicate and understand each other both during the process and after the divorce. The attorneys are committed to helping to lay a foundation that will build a healthier relationship.
Collaborative Divorce is based on three main principles:
- The parties agree in writing with each other and with their attorneys that they will not to go to court.
- Both spouses commit to an honest and open exchange of documents and information.
- Each option for settlement takes into account the highest interests and goals of both spouses and their children.
Every Collaborative Divorce is focused on the needs of the entire family. From the beginning of the process, a commitment is made to keep conflict to a minimum. This not only helps assure that the divorce process will move forward as smoothly and effectively as possible, but also that a foundation will be built allowing family members to move on positively with their life after the divorce.
How Does The Collaborative Divorce Process Work?
In the Collaborative Divorce Process, each of the parties retains their own independent collaborative attorney who will gather information, provide the client with information about their rights, responsibilities and options, and help them negotiate on their behalf.
All negotiations are conducted in highly structured, face-to-face meetings between the couple and their attorneys. Each meeting will be based upon a written, agreed upon agenda and will be followed up with minutes that accurately reflect what was said and what was agreed upon.
Negotiations in a Collaborative Divorce will address all of the issues that need to be resolved including finances, property, child custody, child support, spousal support and any other issue that is important to that particular family.
If the parties are ultimately unable to arrive at an agreement on all of the issues, the collaborative attorneys will withdraw from the process and litigation attorneys can be retained to take the matter to court.
What Are The Benefits Of Collaborative Divorce?
- Better for your children. Children are given a voice in the process, alleviating potential trauma that sometimes lasts for generations.
- You remain in control. Decision making is directly in the hands of the spouses involved in divorce rather than the hands of a third party, "one size fits all" directive.
- You enjoy confidentiality. Problems and assets are kept private.
- Solutions are mutually beneficial. The collaborative process recognizes and understands each client's needs, interests concerns and goals, while allowing both parties to be heard throughout the duration.
- Focus on the future. Collaboration changes the notion of divorce from adversarial and win/lose to a problem-solving constructive process.
How Is A Collaborative Attorney Different From a Traditional Divorce Attorney?
The attorneys and other professionals who practice Collaborative Divorce do this work because we know that divorce doesn't mean having to suffer the emotional and financial turmoil with which it is often associated.
Collaborative attorneys, who are members of the New York Association of Collaborative Professionals, are required to have practiced in family and divorce law and be trained in mediation and the collaborative process as well. The divorce coaches and financial professionals are also required to have mediation and collaborative training.
The Collaborative Team Is Centered Around You
There are times when working with other collaborative professionals can assist the couple to arrive at an agreement that best meets the immediate and long term needs of the family.
These other collaborative professionals include:
- Divorce coaches who will assist the parties to develop better communication tools so that they can understand their spouse and be better understood when expressing their own interests and needs. Coaches also help the parties manage all of the difficult emotions that arise in the midst of divorce.
- Child specialists who give the children a "voice" in the process and work with parents to create a parenting plan that meets the children's best interests.
- Financial specialists who will gather and analyze financial information and assist the clients to make informed decisions about financial matters.