How To Be Collaborative In Divorce

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR),Collaborative Divorce by Bob Bordett

Over the next several blog articles, I thought I would write about the different models of Alternative Dispute Resolution models for divorcing families.

The collaborative process — also called collaborative law or collaborative divorce — is voluntary, private, confidential, and ensures full disclosure. That means it is the understanding and responsibility of each party to disclose all financial and other issues regarding the divorce.

The focus of collaborative is on reaching a settlement that meets the current and future needs of both parties and the family — not on assigning blame.

The backbone of the collaborative process is the participation agreement. The parties involved must sign an agreement stating that the entire team is disqualified from working with either party if they end up going into court.

Couples always retain their right to go to court if this process ends without an agreement.
This sounds like mediation: with mediation, you have a choice to have attorneys with you in the mediation. In collaborative, you may have a team of professionals working for you. Each party has their own attorney that is trained in collaborative, and may have mental health professionals working as coaches, a child specialist who is neutral to the parents but is the voice for the child or children, and a financial neutral. There are many different models available, such as attorney-only, full team, and referral. At the end of the day, however, each party has their own attorney, trained in collaborative.

In the collaborative process, each team member has certain responsibilities:

Mental health professionals working as coaches:
Teaching communication and listening skills
Guiding each party through family dynamics
Supporting each party with issues related to healthy divorce recovery
Providing emotional encouragement and parenting plan assistance
Attorneys for each party:
Advising clients about the law
Assisting clients to clarify their goals, interests, concerns, and priorities
Working with other collaborative attorneys as divorce guides
Completing tasks related to the settlement agreement
A financial neutral:
Meeting jointly with the parties
Helping to educate the parties
Working on division of assets and liability, tax issues, child support, spousal support or alimony, retirement accounts, and other financial issues that may arise
WILL NOT negotiate or resolve differences between the parties
A child specialist, neutral to the parents, acting as the children’s voice:
Focusing on the children’s needs during the divorce
Ensuring the children have a safe and private place to ask questions, express needs, and address problems related to the divorce
Bringing into the process important information about the needs and concerns of the children

Although the collaborative process is less expensive than litigation, it is difficult to compare the two methods; if someone hasn’t been through a divorce, there is nothing to compare the collaborative model to. There is no frame of reference regarding how litigation can affect them, emotionally or financially.

If you have questions regarding the collaborative process, please don’t hesitate to contact me today.
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