What is a collaborative divorce?

Collaborative Divorce, is what it says. It is a way to obtain a divorce by collaboration, cooperation and negotiation.

Collaborative divorce is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and it allows you to avoid having to go to Court – a process that can be a real nightmare. A collaborative divorce is not for everyone. It is a new approach to divorce and not everybody will like it – particularly not people who want a bitter, long drawn out custody battle as a way to vent their frustrations. For others who want to save money and to separate with a minimum of bitterness and animosity, this is definitely the wave of the future.

Attorneys are not just “collaborative attorneys” because they say so. Nor are you have a collaborative divorce simply because you decide to be civil with your spouse. In order to have a collaborative divorce you and your spouse and attorneys for each of you need to sign a COLLABORATIVE LAW PARTICIPATION AGREEMENT. This is a 5 page document. It lays out the terms of the agreement for each party and each party has to sign it. Once you sign it it is like any other contract to which you are legally bound without going to court.

Furthermore, attorneys have to get special training to be a collaborative divorce practitioner. They have to be trained in “collaborative noncombative resolution techniques.”

But its not just lawyers. The whole process involves a team of professionals from law, mental health and finance who work collaboratively with the divorcing couple to reach a fair agreement on issues such as:

Division of Property
Child and Spousal Support
Children?s Living Arrangements
visitation and parenting time, etc.

“The primary objectives are to insure that agreements are mutually satisfying to the parties, likely to endure and promote the well being of the children.”

If this agreement collapses, then you cannot retain the same attorney for a regular divorce. You will have to start all over from scratch.

A collaborative divorce is considerably less expensive than a regular divorce. The average contested divorce costs about $30,000.00. But a collaborative divorce can run about $2,500.00.

Originally published May 28, 2006

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