During a collaborative divorce, the parties sign a collaborative participation agreement describing the nature and scope of the matter; they voluntarily disclose all information which is relevant and material to the matter that must be decided; they agree to use good faith efforts in their negotiations to reach a mutually acceptable settlement; and they agree to be represented by a lawyer whose representation terminates upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding. The parties may engage mental health and financial professionals (referred to as an interdisciplinary collaborative process) whose engagement terminates upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding. Additionally, the parties may jointly engage other experts as needed.
The collaborative process differs from the traditional divorce process in many ways. Most of the process is conducted in private four-way meetings in contrast to a public courtroom. The parties have more control as there is not a court-imposed timeline and outcome. Parties can work at their own pace and agreements can be very specialized to best accommodate all parties. Further, issues are discussed verbally, rather than in writing and there is a high level of transparency, which can ultimately be more efficient.