Divorce is an alternative to the adversarial divorce process
where professionals and the spouses or partners commit in writing to work
together to help the couple reach a divorce settlement out of
court which addresses the needs and interests of the couple and
Collaborative Divorce is a process in which
negotiation replaces litigation as a means to reach a
satisfactory conclusion. The goal of Collaborative
Divorce is to reduce conflict and generate constructive
How does Collaborative
Collaborative Divorce utilizes a team approach to
build a structured, non-adversarial process to resolve
property, support and parenting issues. All parties
agree to address all issues without court involvement.
Collaborative Divorce requires full disclosure and full
cooperation on the part of the couple seeking
And who constitutes the
members of this "team?"
The team typically includes the parties seeking
divorce, two attorneys – one for each party - and often
a coach, a neutral financial professional, and possibly
a child coach, if required. Importantly, though,
Collaborative Divorce is a team process with all members
sharing the goal of peaceful and fair resolution.
So, who is the "coach"
and what is his/her function?
The coach is typically a mental health professional,
often a psychologist who does not act as a therapist.
Rather, it is the job of the coach to keep emotions in
check, to maintain the appropriate tone during the
meetings, and to lend support to either party when
things get too stressful or overwhelming.
And the financial
This is typically an accountant or a financial
advisor who also is a Certified Divorce Financial
Analyst™. This means that they have specialized training
to deal with the financial aspects of divorce. This
person acts as an objective neutral whose job is to help
the team members understand any of the financial aspects
of the divorce.
Can any lawyers,
coaches, or financial people be members of the team?
No. ALL collaborative practitioners must have
specialized training in their particular area, be
members of the International Academy of Collaborative
Professionals (IACP) and must be committed to the
Collaborative Divorce process.
How can we collaborate if
we aren't getting along?
Many people recognize that their marriage is over,
and yet they want a secure and private setting for
coming to agreement regarding the parenting of their
children and the distribution of their property.
Further, collaborative practitioners are specially
trained to address conflict and disagreement in a
creative and calming fashion. The team of professionals
works with the parties together or individually to
acknowledge fears and concerns, and then focus each
individual toward a productive, non-adversarial
resolution that is acceptable to both parties.
What if we have to go to
Your collaborative attorney cannot ever represent you
in court. This concept is central to the collaborative
process and to the couple’s commitment to a
non-adversarial resolution of their divorce-related
issues. The court system does not become involved in the
collaborative process until the final agreement is
signed and the couple is ready to submit it to the
court. The need to go to court prior to the final
hearing indicates a breakdown in the negotiating
Does every divorce
require all members of the team?
No. Each family is different and unique. The initial
contact person should be able to help determine the best
complement of players for the particular situation.
multi-professional approach cost a lot of money?
Not necessarily. In fact, we think overall the
collaborative process creates cost efficiencies. If the
coach can keep the process from breaking apart because
of emotional issues, and the financial person can bring
clarity to financial issues, the process should proceed
in a more cost-efficient manner.
How does Collaborative
Divorce differ from Mediation?
In mediation, one neutral professional works with the
couple to resolve disputes. The mediator assists the
parties in understanding each other’s points of view and
developing settlement options. The mediator cannot give
legal advice or advocate for either party.
What is a
Collaborative Practice Group?
Collaborative professionals who have undergone
similar training organize themselves into practice
groups as a way of ensuring a common basis of
professional training, understanding and trust between
the practitioners. They frequently meet as a group to
problem-solve and discuss unique issues that may arise
in a collaboration. This enhances their ability to work
together to assist their respective clients when the
negotiations become difficult or emotionally-charged.
How much does it cost?
There is no set fee for a Collaborative Divorce.
Collaborative representation requires a fee agreement
between the attorney and client, and time is billed by
the hour. Jointly-retained professionals are paid
separately. However, the time spent in a collaborative
meeting is much more cost-efficient than court time, in
that the attorney’s time is solely focused upon
resolving the client’s case.