WHAT IS A COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE?
Let's start by saying what collaborative divorce is not. It is not an adversarial process where two attorneys battle it out until there is no winner. It is not the agony of traditional divorce, a lengthy horror story fueled by anger, mistrust, and revenge that leads to runaway costs, bitterness, and an emotional tug-of-war over the kids. It is not mediation that begins with the best of intentions, but often fails due to distorted communication and a power struggle. Instead, collaborative divorce is a proven process to best meet the financial and emotional needs of the divorcing couple and their children.
Collaborative divorce utilizes a proven strategy to minimize the very things that sabotage smooth negotiations – anger, mistrust, revenge, and acrimony – and replaces them with common sense, fairness and respect. These are the very tools needed if the parties are to reach an equitable agreement about property, custody, and support.
Collaborative divorce utilizes a team approach where each member of the team is dedicated to a free exchange of ideas and information. The team consists of a lawyer and coach for each spouse, and one licensed financial advisor. The lawyers advise their clients, but with a point of view that seeks to achieve the goals set forth and agreed upon by the divorcing couple. The coaches are licensed mental health professionals who assist their respective clients in addressing and mitigating the highly charged and often destructive emotions too often associated with divorce.
The parties themselves control the collaborative divorce process. Thus the decision-making power is kept where it belongs, with the people affected by the outcome. Unlike traditional divorce where ultimately court and state formulas dictate what the divorce settlement and co-parenting arrangements will be, collaborative divorce allows the couple to set their own divorce agenda and determine the best settlement for their family. The parties retain full decision-making authority and control.
Collaborative divorce requires that both parties dedicate themselves to honesty, openness, and a willingness to place the welfare of the entire family first. The focus on improving the couple's method of interaction and helping the couple to make their own decisions is what makes the collaborative process a better approach to divorce and post-divorce co-parenting.
Everyone on a collaborative divorce team shares the same goal, that of assisting the parties in the mutual effort to reach a satisfactory resolution. This goal is reached in the vast majority of collaborative divorce cases. Because everyone is working together to achieve the same goals, the collaborative process is faster, less expensive, and less stressful than traditional divorce.