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What is Collaborative Divorce?

A Collaborative Divorce uses the legal system to legally dissolve a marriage.  But, instead of working through the traditional “adversarial” system, the husband and wife each retain an attorney who has had Collaborative Divorce training before the case is started. Before either spouse files for divorce, the parties and their Collaborative lawyers all sign a Participation Agreement, committing themselves to reach a settlement before filing a divorce action.  A team approach is used to work through the legal, financial and emotional issues that arise in the transformation of the family.  The team may be expanded as the parties and their Collaboratively trained lawyers agree, and may include divorce coaches, financial professionals, mediators, or a child specialist – all of whom are trained and committed to the collaborative process. Once all issues have been resolved and agreed, the parties join together in the filing of the divorce action where no issues are in dispute, and the process is respectfully and cost-effectively completed.

Collaborative Divorce focuses on the future and puts children first. Through a Collaborative Divorce, new parenting relationships can get off to a positive start where parents actively plan together for their children’s restructured family life.

The Collaborative approach requires full disclosure of assets and debts; expects a commitment to good–faith problem solving and constructive communication in order to reach a solution that works for both parties.  The team members encourage each spouse to observe the principles set forth in the Participation Agreement, and play an important role toward seeking compatible solutions as well as modeling and encouraging the spouses to work collaboratively.

If either party does not comply with the Participation Agreement, the collaborative divorce process is terminated, the parties are precluded from using the collaborative team members in their traditional divorce action to follow, including their collaborative lawyers.  This investment by each party helps hold the process together as the team works to help the couple work through the difficulties encountered through the transformation of a marriage to dissolution and a new phase.

If problems arise in the future, the collaborative team can be reassembled to work through any new difficulties that may arise.  The collaborative process helps increase the capacity of co-parents to maintain mutual respect, have improved communication and an increased ability to find workable solutions.

See also from the Collaborative Practice Institute of Michigan

From the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals