Collaborative Divorce

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce helps divorcing couples come to a mutually agreed upon, negotiated settlement without the threat of court. It offers a civilized, solutions-based approach to ending a relationship. Based upon consideration and respect, collaborative divorce also keeps a divorcing or separating couple in control of the process—rather than 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:

  1. The parties agree in writing with each other, and with their attorneys, that they will not to go to court.
  2. Both spouses commit to an honest and open exchange of documents and information.
  3. Each option for settlement takes into account the highest interests and goals of both spouses and their children.

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. Divorce coaches and financial professionals are brought into process to help with difficult communication, emotional, child-related and financial issues.

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 and other professionals will withdraw from the process and litigation attorneys can be retained to take the matter to court.

What Are the Benefits of Collaborative Divorce?

  • You remain in control. Decision-making is directly in the hands of the spouses involved in divorce rather than the hands of a judge and a "one size fits all" directive.
  • You enjoy confidentiality. Your personal issues and the details of your finances 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 process.
  • Better for your children. Children are given a voice in the process, alleviating potential trauma that sometimes lasts for generations.
  • Focus on the future. Collaboration changes the notion of divorce from win/lose to a problem-solving constructive process that produces a comprehensive, durable agreement.

What Issues Can Be Resolved Through Collaborative Divorce?

  • Divorce and legal separation
  • Custody and parenting plans
  • Valuation and division of property
  • Child support and spousal support
  • Prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements

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 also 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 Collaborative Team Is Centered Around You

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.

To discuss whether or not a collaborative divorce is the right option for you, contact us today.

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    Additional Resources

    The Family Specialist

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