The process of collaborative divorce allows you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse to work out an agreement that is acceptable to both of you without having to go to court. While it bears some similarity to other alternative dispute resolution methods, it also has its own unique elements.
While collaborative divorce is not appropriate for every situation, it may be a good option for you if you and your spouse have committed to divorce as the most reasonable option but would like to avoid going to court. It can offer some significant benefits over litigation.
According to the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, the process involves you and a team of professionals. These include attorneys representing both you and your spouse, as well as child specialists, financial professionals and coaches, all of whom should have training in the collaborative process. These professionals help you refine your priorities and clarify your interests. They respect the needs of the entire family, including children if you have any, as well as your shared goals.
At the beginning of the collaborative process, you, your spouse and the professional team all make a pledge to commit to settlement and not go to court. If the collaborative process does not result in a resolution, you and your spouse may have to litigate, but you cannot retain the same counsel.
Another key element of the collaborative process is an open exchange of information on a voluntary basis. Having all the relevant information allows you and your spouse to make good decisions.
The collaborative process allows you to hire an attorney to counsel you and speak up for your interests. It allows you and your spouse to have more control over the outcome because you make the decisions yourselves instead of deferring to a judge. Everyone involved agrees to complete confidentiality, and the process is often much more efficient in terms of time and money.