Q. What is Collaborative Divorce?
A. Collaborative divorce has the same goal as mediation: to assist the separating or divorcing couple with coming to an agreement regarding all of the areas surrounding their separation or divorce without the need to go to court.
Q. How does the process work?
A. When you decide on Collaborative Practice, each of you hires a Collaborative Practice lawyer. Everyone agrees in writing not to go to court. You will meet privately and in face-to-face talks with your Collaborative professional team, which may also include coaches, financial professionals and/or child specialists. All meetings are intended to produce an honest exchange of information and clear understanding about needs and expectations, especially concerning the well-being of children. Mutual problem-solving by all parties leads to the final agreement.
Q. What is the collaborative team?
A. A Collaborative team is the combination of professionals that you choose to work with to resolve your dispute. It can be simply you and your Collaborative lawyers. Or, in addition to your Collaborative lawyers, you can choose to include a neutral financial professional, one or more coaches, a child specialist or other specialists you and your spouse/partner believe would be helpful. Your “Collaborative team” will guide and support you as problem-solvers, not as adversaries.
Q. Is Collaborative Practice Faster?
A. Your situation determines how quickly your collaborative process proceeds. However, Collaborative Practice can be more direct and efficient. By focusing on problem-solving—instead of blame and grievances—there's an opportunity to strive for respectful results. Full disclosure and open communications assure that you cover all the issues in a timely manner. And since you settle out of court, there's no wait for the multiple court dates necessary with conventional litigation. Experience shows that Collaborative Practice cases generally take less time than litigated cases.
Q. How does Collaborative Divorce differ from mediation?
A. In mediation, the mediator is a neutral. The mediator doers not represent either the Husband or the Wife. In Collaborative Divorce, each spouse has his/her own attorney. The attorney has been specially trained in collaborative law. The couple meets with their attorneys to negotiate the terms of their separation or divorcee. Often, the couple also engages the assistance of other professionals to assist with this process, either family professionals or financial professionals. The professionals work together as a team to support the couple in coming to a resolution.
Q. If my spouse and i have tried mediation and have not been successful, can we still use collaborative law?
A. Yes. I have personally represented individuals in the collaborative process who have reached agreement with their spouse, after they have been unsuccessful in mediation.
Portions reprinted with permission from the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals web site.