A Collaborative Divorce is a new concept for a lot of our clients and they often have the following questions to ask us:
What is Collaborative Divorce exactly?
Collaborative Divorce, Collaborative Law and Collaborative Process are terms often used interchangeably. However, they are all a part of Collaborative Practice. Collaborative Practice includes three key components:
- A free exchange of information
- A pledge not to litigate
- A commitment to finding a mutually beneficial resolution
What’s the difference between the Collaborative Process and Mediation?
In Mediation there is an impartial third party helping to reach a resolution and they cannot give legal advice. In a Collaborative Divorce each party has their attorney with them to act as their advocate and help them push through any problems. They are not there as adversaries though; they are there to work together in reaching a satisfactory conclusion. The lawyers can then draft the settlement terms and let everyone look them over to ensure both parties are satisfied.
What is a Collaborative team?
When a couple starts a Collaborative Divorce, they pick a number of experts to help them through the process. The team generally consists of 2 lawyers, 2 Divorce Coaches, 1 Child Specialist and 1 neutral Financial Specialist. They assist the couple in the following ways:
- The attorneys will assist the couple in negotiating a mutually beneficial agreement and file the necessary paperwork when the process has concluded.
- The Divorce Coaches help the couple develop the negotiating and self-management skills they will need to make the process a success.
- The Child Specialist acts as the children’s voice in the process and helps the parents look out for the children’s needs.
- The Financial Specialist assists in gathering the crucial financial documentation and helps the couple to gauge what kind of financial repercussions their decisions may have.
What is an Interdisciplinary Team Model?
The interdisciplinary Collaborative Team Model is a multi-disciplinary team approach to dispute resolution (usually separation and divorce), which includes attorneys, coaches, a financial specialist, and when there are minor children, a child specialist, working interactively as co-equals. Professionals on the team all subscribe to the same core values and shared beliefs, consistent with the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) ethical guidelines, which state that none of the team members will be involved in any court process concerning a shared case, and that all members will withdraw from the case if it becomes a court process.
This integrated model provides the couple with the services they need from the professional that is most qualified to address each complex issue involved in a divorce. Working together, these Collaborative professionals help divorcing couples achieve an outcome that would not be possible without this cooperative team involvement.
How does a Collaborative Divorce differ from a standard divorce?
In conventional divorce the two parties generally regard themselves as adversaries, because this is the way the process is set up. The case goes to court, which triggers a set of legal steps you must follow. The ensuing conflict escalates any negative feelings you may have had and ratchets up the stress levels. A Collaborative Divorce is all about working together toward the conclusion you and your spouse need. There is very little conflict so you have less stress and a higher probability of maintaining an amicable relationship after the divorce is over.
How does Collaborative Practice actually work?
It usually follows this pattern:
- Each party hires a lawyer trained in Collaborative Divorce
- Everyone involved signs an agreement that says they won’t go to court
- The spouses meet with each other together with the lawyers, as well as with their lawyers individually
- Additional experts are brought in to assist with specific issues
- Both parties work together to solve their dispute and reach a mutual understanding
Is a Collaborative Divorce faster than a standard divorce?
Each divorce procedure is different but, for the most part, a Collaborative Divorce is faster. It is a more direct process and you don’t have to wait for the court to catch up. You and your spouse can set the pace and get it done as quickly or as slowly as you need.
How does Collaborative Practice focus on the future?
Since it is less confrontational and more about working together, the Collaborative Process allows each spouse to focus on getting a fresh start. Instead of planning tactics to get the most out of your spouse, you can plan for your children’s future needs and make a smooth transition to the next stage of your life.