Collaborative Divorce Process

Family Law Articles

The Collaborative Divorce Process is an alternative to litigation that is designed to enable the spouses to work together to resolve their case outside of court. This is an option for those that want to keep their case out of the courtroom and do not want to relinquish control of their case toa judge or jury that will make decisions after only a short time of hearing about the issues. The Collaborative Divorce Process works well for people that previously were able to work together to make important decisions. Perhaps emotions or loss of trust have strained the relationship making divorce necessary, but the need to keep control of their case and involve the other party in the process is still desirable compared to the adversarial system. The Collaborative Divorce Process has a proven system of enabling each person to share in the process of resolving their casein a methodical and mature manner. The process begins with the parties signing a Participation Agreement that sets boundaries and provides a safe and respectful process for each party to express concerns and suggest solutions. Each party has their own collaboratively trained attorney. At any time during the meetings a party may meet with their attorney privately to get advice during the process. However, these attorneys will not threaten litigation or file for hearings in court during this process. Instead, these attorneys are committed to the process of helping the parties resolve the issues in the collaborative divorce process. If a party decides that the process is not working and that litigation is necessary, both parties have to get new attorneys for the litigation. In addition to the attorney for each party, there are neutral professionals added to make up the professional team that will help guide everyone through the process. Instead of each person having their own professionals, the parties split the cost of neutral professionals. The meetings are generally run by a neutral mental health professional. This professional has the duty of making sure that these boundaries are followed and that everyone is respectful. The neutral mental health professional may also meet with each of the parties outside of the process to make sure that their concerns are being adequately addressed. The team also includes a financial professional. This person collects the financial documents from the parties and can help evaluate claims, value difficult to value items like businesses, and obtain other necessary information to help inform the parties of the financial estate. The financial professional also helps show different options for dividing the estate in a manner that makes the most sense for each party. The process usually involves 6–8 meetings that are about two hours long each. There is a set agenda for each meeting and the meeting permits both parties to equally participate in deciding the issues. The frequency of the meetings is usually determined by the issues and the parties. The meetings are designed to be long enough to move the case forward without being overwhelming to the people involved. Once the couple have resolved all of the issues the attorneys prepare the Decree of Divorce and any closing documents. These are presented to the court for approval. Because each party participated in the process and had a hand in making decisions, the post divorce period is usually smoother and more amicable. This is extremely important to people that have many years to co parent their children with dignity. There are many advantages to the Collaborative Divorce Process including:

  • Privacy
  • Quicker Resolution
  • Save Money
  • Reduce Future Conflict

Unlike the litigation process, the collaborative process is confidential and conducted in private meetings. Because the parties are continually moving the case forward and working together to provide the necessary information, the process is much faster than litigation.

Each party has the benefit of information from the shared professionals, instead of hiring competing experts. This saves money over the litigation route. The adversarial process involves a lot of hearings and trial and that makes litigation the most expensive route to resolve a divorce.

Studies have shown that people that participate in the process are more likely to be happy with the solution and more likely to comply with the decisions made in that process. This reduces conflict and helps avoid future conflict. The result is better coparenting, which benefits the children.

If you are interested in the collaborative divorce process, you need to hire a collaboratively trained divorce attorney. Not every attorney has received this additional training. Robin R. Zegen has been collaboratively trained and helped many people resolve their differences using the collaborative process. Give Robin R. Zegen a call today to schedule a consultation and find out if the collaborative divorce process is right for you.