Collaborative Divorce Mediation

Collaborative divorce is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), a method for couples to dissolve their marriage without going to court. The process has helped a lot of people save time, money, and emotional strain. Here’s basically how it works.

The word “collaborative” means that the couple has to work together toward the goal, which is divorce settlement. Both parties have to agree from the outset to commit to resolving their disputes through negotiation, compromise, and agreement. When spouses are capable of working things out, and they really aren’t eager to involve themselves in the family court system unless it is absolutely necessary, then the collaborative divorce may be a good option. This ADR process may not be realistic for every couple, but for many it is worth investigating.

Process of Collaborative Divorce

The collaborative divorce process is voluntary and both spouses must agree that they will not take the divorce to court. If either attorney moves the case toward litigation, then both attorneys will be disqualified — neither may continue the representation in court. If the couple is unable to negotiate a settlement during collaboration, then both attorneys and their respective law firms must withdraw representation. Both of the parties will have to find new counsel if their divorce proceeds in court. Like we said, collaborative divorce is not a solution for everyone.

Team Approach with Professional Advice

Collaborative divorce involves more of a team approach, drawing on the expertise of professionals — accountants, child specialists, mental health professionals, divorce coaches — to assist the parties in their decision-making. All of these individuals can be brought in to advise the parties and, of course, there are expenses associated with these professional services. Collaborative divorce is a wholly non-adversarial process. The collaborative divorce lets the couple work together as a team, beside trained professionals, to resolve all the issues in their divorce. Each spouse still has a lawyer for legal advice, guidance, and support throughout the negotiations.

Overview of the Collaborative Divorce Process

Collaborative divorce begins with specific core elements set out in a contractual commitment between the parties. These commitments cannot be violated and are made in the form of pledges, or promises, by the parties before any negotiations begin:

  • First. The parties and their attorneys sign a pledge to participate in the collaborative divorce process. The parties agree to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement, without using litigation to decide any issues.
  • Second. The parties agree that there will be no court intervention of any kind during the collaborative divorce process. If either party decides to litigate, then both collaboration attorneys must withdraw from the case.
  • Third. The parties agree to engage in open communication and information sharing. They agree to share the cost of any professionals or third parties who are brought in as advisers.
  • Fourth. The parties agree to create shared solutions that consider both of their highest priorities. They agree to act in good faith and with integrity. If one party realizes that a mistake has been made, a valuation error for example, then the party has a duty to disclose the mistake. That’s part of the cooperative effort required in the collaborative divorce process.