Collaborative divorce is a type of procedure in family law for parties that wish to undergo divorce in a cooperative manner. The process of collaboration allows the parties to agree to solutions regarding some of the various legal issues connected with divorce.  These may include distribution of property, child custody, support payments, and many other points of legal contention. 

Why Choose a Collaborative Divorce Process?

Collaborative divorce basically allows the parties to work out their differences in a way that is less confrontational. Each party is represented by their attorney, and a mediator may also be present to help facilitate the process. Once the parties reach an agreement or agreements on their issues, they can then present their conclusions to the judge, who can solidify the terms into a legally enforceable court order. There are many difference in a collaborative divorce process and a traditional court litigation. In the collaborative divorce process:

  • Both parties agree with one another that they will resolve the divorce without going to court and they will stay out of court the entire time
  • The collaborative process sets out goals, objectives, and procedures that each party will follow throughout the entire process
  • The process focuses on creating a solution to reach the important needs and goals of each party in a mutual way
  • The collaborative process will also reach a solution in a efficient and fair way that each party agrees to
  • Both spouses work as a team and not against one another

When Is Collaborative Divorce Recommended? Are There Any Drawbacks?

Collaborative divorce may be recommended when:

  • The parties seeking divorce have only a few minor legal issues that need to be worked out
  • The parties are able to communicate with one another in a peaceable and productive manner
  • A faster and more streamlined process is desired
  • The parties have individual needs or interests that they’d like to focus on more

On the other hand, collaborative divorce does have its drawbacks. The process is not always available in every jurisdiction and for all cases. Collaborative divorce is generally not recommended when:

  • The parties have a legitimate dispute over marital property that needs to be resolved through the legal system
  • There is a possibility of physical abuse or harm
  • The parties are unable or unwilling to work with each other to reach a conclusion on a point of legal contention
  • The parties have emotional or relational issues that prevent them from cooperating with one another in general

What Is a Participation Agreement?

A participation agreement is an important document in a collaborative divorce case. This is a contract that lays out the rules and guidelines for the collaboration meetings. It is to be reviewed and signed by all the parties involved in the process, including the spouses and their respective lawyers.

The Participation Agreement that is entered into by parties set out commitments and agreements in the divorce. A Participation agreement usually includes provisions such as:

  • The parties will act in their children’s best interest when dealing with divorce related matters to try and minimize the emotional tension to their children because of the divorce
  • The process of the divorce and the procedures each party will do
  • what each parties lawyers will assist them with
  • whether neutral mediators will be used
  • how each party will communicate with one another

How Does Collaborative Divorce Process Begin?

To begin a collaborative divorce process, it is recommended that both spouses become educated in the collaborative process by reviewing all the materials and resources. In addition, interview all the collaborative professionals that will be involved in the process to determine the impact the process will have on their children, finances, and how each party will communicate with one another.

After you and your spouse have agreed to the collaborative divorce process, retain a attorney for each party and meet with the attorney prior to the first collaborative meetings. Finally, schedule your first meeting to meet the entire collaborative process team and sign the collaborative participation agreement.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With the Collaborative Divorce Process?

Collaborative divorce may be a workable option for some persons seeking an alternative process. You may be seeking for an experienced family lawyer for assistance with collaborative divorce. A qualified lawyer in your area can help represent you during meetings and also before a judge if necessary. In addition, your lawyer can help provide you with guidance regarding your legal options for divorce.