What is Collaborative Divorce?
Since the 1970’s, about 50% of marriages in the U.S. have ended in divorce. Most couples experience divorce as expensive, slow and adversarial. Long-term studies show that children suffer harm when their parents are in conflict. Couples who must divorce deserve a way to end their marriage that minimizes the harm to all family members. Now, there is one.
Collaborative divorce is a new way for divorcing couples – especially those with children – to re-structure their families without court intervention. In a Collaborative divorce process, the participants agree to resolve their disputes in a respectful manner rather than hiring adversarial lawyers or having a judge decide important questions about their family. Each spouse works with a lawyer who has special training in techniques to help the couple design the best result possible for the family. Rather than warriors or hired guns, collaborative attorneys are more like legally-trained diplomats. They model for their clients a commitment to honesty, dignified behavior, and mutual respect (which can be hard for divorcing couples to do on their own at this point in their relationship).
The Collaborative team often includes other neutral specialists with skills the parties need to effectively resolve their issues. This may include divorce coaches (to help spouses communicate more effectively), a child specialist (identifying what the children need from the process) or a financial adviser (assisting in developing the best long-range plan for sharing the family’s assets). Each professional works only within his or her area of expertise. This results-oriented team may reduce financial costs compared to a fight-it-out divorce. The Collaborative process contributes to a better quality result that allows everyone to heal and get on with life. A traditional divorce can be so painful that the couple just wants to “get it done”, leaving lasting scars especially on the kids. Collaborative divorce provides a safe container where the family has the time and expertise to “get it right” and meet everyone’s needs. This approach pays many benefits over the years and decades to come.
How Collaborative Divorce is different from the traditional “Old-School Divorce:”
- Instead of an intimidating public and complex court system, the spouses control the process in a private and safe setting.
- Instead of through lawyers, the couple communicates directly.
- Instead of a win-lose decision based on legal “rights,” a professional team works to develop the best possible win-win results for all family members.
- Instead of being limited to legal analysis, the emotional, financial and relational needs of all family members are valued.
- Instead of wasteful bickering or legal maneuvering, all efforts are focused on moving the family forward.
Who Should Consider Collaborative Divorce Process?
- Any couple that wants a civilized, respectful way to resolve their issues.
- Those who want to maintain a working relationship after the dissolution.
- Those who can put their childrens’ interests first.
- Those valuing privacy and maintaining control over their family’s issues.
- Those that are able to focus on a better future rather than being stuck in a painful past or present.