The collaborative process creates a safe and structured environment for divorcing couples to negotiate in an atmosphere of honesty, cooperation, integrity, and professionalism focused on the future well-being of your restructured family.
All team members will sign a contract at the first meeting, and this contract is called a Collaborative Pledge. In that pledge you will agree to basic collaborative ground rules, including full and voluntary disclosure of all financial documents and a promise to not file any court action during the collaborative process.
As the collaborative process proceeds, the attorneys will be working on a settlement document that will contain the details of your agreement. You can expect to sign the settlement document and any associated documents at the final session.
Collaborative Divorce Basics
Collaborative divorce is a form of alternative dispute resolution that allows the spouses, with the help of a team of professionals, to customize a settlement that is designed for their family’s particular situation.
The participants in a collaborative divorce are the two spouses, their two attorneys, mental health professionals called divorce coaches, a child specialist neutral (if there are children in the family), and a financial neutral who assists with the cash flow plan and the property division decisions.
The team meets in a series of sessions that typically last two hours each. The number of sessions depends on the complexity of the issues to be resolved. You may occasionally meet privately with professionals between sessions. You can expect an agenda for each meeting and homework between meetings.
Your actual divorce must be granted by a judge, and the division of certain kinds of retirement benefits must be approved by a judge. However, your collaborative attorney can appear at the hearing on your behalf and neither spouse is required to go to court.