A collaborative divorce is an alternative to the traditional adversarial divorce process. A collaborative divorce aims to end a marriage outside of the court. Collaborative attorneys believe that an amicable settlement is more likely if the process is more flexible and if the environment is more intimate.
Guided by attorneys trained in corroborative law, the parties can control the pace and focus of the process. Rather than having to adhere to strict and limited court schedules, the parties may schedule meetings on specific issues as they see fit. The negotiations and related financial information can remain private, which is usually not the case for adversarial divorce proceedings that occur in open court.
The goal of the collaborative divorce process is not to attack the other party, but to work together to reach a settlement that is acceptable to both parties. The settlement reached is a product of the parties’ careful negotiations which are usually superior to a rushed decision from a trial judge. During the collaborative divorce process, the parties can invite other professionals to help resolve their differences. The parties may hire personal coaches to give them emotional support. If the parties have children, specialists can work with the children directly or advise the parties on the best way to address their concerns. Financial advisers and tax experts can help iron out details of the division of property between the parties.
Collaborative law comes with one major cost: If either party chooses to go to court and litigate the divorce (i.e., abandon the collaborative process), the attorneys for both sides must withdraw. Sometimes this rule also applies to other professionals who have contributed to the case such as tax experts or child psychologists. This feature of the collaborative divorce agreement creates an incentive for both parties to stick with the process and make a deal.
The collaborative divorce process is not a good fit for all couples. But when the parties are willing and able to cooperate in good faith, the process can lead to more satisfying and sustainable financial results for both parties and, for parents, better post-divorce parenting.