Collaborative divorce

Collaborative (team) divorce works well for individuals who feel more comfortable having an attorney represent them to ensure that all of their legal rights are being considered and protected while helping you and your spouse peacefuly create a divorce. Specifically, collaborative divorce may work well for you in the following situations:

  • When you want your attorney with you
  • When you want to stay out of court
  • When you don't want to fight with your spouse
  • When you want to participate in creating your agreement
  • When you want to tailor the agreement to your and your children's needs and interests
  • When you want to divorce peacefully

How mediation and collaborative divorce differ:

The key difference between mediation and collaborative divorce is that in mediation, the mediator runs the show as she works with the couple to create an agreement. In collaborative divorce, the attorneys run the show as they protect their clients' rights but simultaneously work with (not against) each other.

In other words, with collaborative divorce, the goal of reaching an agreement remains the same as it is with mediation. However, each spouse has his or her own attorney present at all meetings. Everyone works together as a team to find a resolution.

In either approach, a neutral financial professional, a therapist, or a divorce coach may be part of the process.

The key benefits of collaborative divorce:

There’s no “win-lose” in this approach: Both attorneys are committed to helping you achieve an Agreement that represents the interests of all members of the family. They understand that there’s nothing gained by being adversarial. Your attorney advocates for you, but at the same time, he or she is working with—not against—your spouse’s attorney.

Help at each point: Attorneys are familiar with the legal requirements of divorce and the issues that need to be resolved. Attorneys practicing collaborative law cooperate with each other and with their individual clients to reach resolution.

Attorneys are in it for the right reasons: They don’t have any incentive to encourage an “us-against-them” situation. In fact, in true collaborative practice, you all sign what's called a Collaborative Law Participation Agreement. That means that if you don't reach an agreement, everyone pledges that they will not go to court. Both attorneys pledge that they will not represent you in court.

Keeping everything in perspective: Sometimes, couples can get stuck arguing about relatively insignificant items and lose focus on what’s really important. Collaborative attorneys will help their clients—and their clients’ spouses—stay on track.

Your financial commitment to reaching an agreement is greater: If you don't sign the Collaborative Law Participation Agreement, both you and your spouse would have to start all over again and find new attorneys to fight in court.

You still save money: While collaborative divorce is typically more expensive than mediation, it still represents very significant cost savings of time and money. Both spouses typically agree that the two attorneys will engage a single financial consultant or parent-child professional, if necessary, rather than each spouse having to retain their own experts.