Collaborative Law Allows for a Kinder Divorce

Collaborative Divorce

When it’s time to divorce, spouses have important choices to make about how to proceed and what type of help they’ll ask for from others — including lawyers, mediators, and other professionals. Some people will go on to a lengthy high-conflict divorce with attorneys representing each side, trying to get everything they possibly can. Others will easily agree on how to divide their property and share custody of their children, and might only need help in preparing the legal paperwork to get divorced. But many people fall in the middle, and for those folks,
Divorcing spouses may have different points of view on issues like property division, custody, or support.

What Collaborative Divorce Gives Your Children

When their parents divorce, children are caught in the middle. They suffer from problems and decisions not of their making. They often feel it is their fault their parents don’t want to be together anymore. They fear their parents will no longer want them or love them. A collaborative divorce can ease their suffering, assure them of their parents’ love, help them adjust more quickly to the changes that are occurring in the family, and help them accept the reality of their new life.

A collaborative divorce can give your children:

  • The reassurance that both parents will continue to love and support them.
  • The continued love and support of both extended families.
  • The structure and consistency they need to grow and develop.
  • A voice in their future and a way to share their views and feelings with you.
  • The ability to accept and handle positively changing family structures and activities, including new relationships you and your spouse may have after divorce.
  • The opportunity to obtain a good education with many opportunities to explore and develop their talents and interests.
  • The ability to share life’s accomplishments and milestones with both parents.
  • Happiness, peace, and love.

If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, a collaborative divorce will help you focus on your children and work together to address their needs. Parenting does not end when your marriage dissolves. Collaborative divorce will give you and your spouse the skills you need to continue to work together for the benefit of your children.

Healthy Child Custody Agreements

Child custody battles leave only casualties, no winners.   Children need the love, support, and involvement of both parents while they’re growing up. Sure, there are cases when one parent may not be capable of effective parenting or when a parent may actually endanger a child, but most of the time it is the anger divorcing spouses have for each other that muddies the child custody waters. Collaborative divorce can help parents set aside unproductive personal emotions and focus on their children. With the help of the collaborative divorce team, a couple can create a child custody agreement that provides for their children’s physical, emotional, and financial needs while allowing both parents to maintain a close relationship with their children.

When children are involved in a divorce, the collaborative divorce team will usually include a child specialist. The child specialist works privately with the children to provide them with their own voice in the collaborative process. The child specialist is not a psychotherapist but a sympathetic realist who will help your children deal with the changes and challenges divorce will bring to their lives.

In talking with your children, the child specialist will gain important insights that can affect your custody agreement. She may be able to offer creative solutions to custody arrangements that will meet both your children’s and your needs. Should the collaborative process break down, like all members of the collaborative team, the child specialist, whose work is confidential, is enjoined from testifying for or against either parent in a court proceeding.

What Is Collaborative Family Law?

Collaborative family law is a new approach to dealing with separation and divorce issues that don’t involve the courts. If you adopt this process you and your respective lawyers formally agree (i.e. sign a written agreement) to work together to find a mutually acceptable and fair solution to your financial and child-related issues – without involving the courts.

This approach is based on a team effort. You, your former partner, your lawyers, and other professionals were required to work together to resolve whatever is in dispute e.g. child support, division of assets, or parenting of the children.

Early, nonadversarial, participation by attorneys allows the parties and attorneys to use the more positive aspects of good lawyering not often seen in adversarial proceedings, such as:

  • Rational analysis
  • Creative problem solving
  • Generating multiple options
  • Maintaining a positive context for settlement and
  • Building a foundation for long-term co-parenting

If your lawyers are unable to get you and your former partner to reach an agreement and you want to take the matter to court, they must resign from the case and you will need to hire new lawyers.

The Collaborative Divorce Process

The Collaborative Divorce model was developed by a group of attorneys, mental health professionals and financial planning experts whose experience with traditional divorce led them to the conclusion that litigation is injurious to families and especially to children. They were certain they could develop a healthier way to help families through divorce. The Collaborative Divorce model has grown rapidly with practitioners throughout the United States and Canada.

Collaborative Family Law attorney

Each party has a Collaborative Family Law attorney.  During individual meetings with each client, and in joint meetings including both attorneys and the other party, the attorneys will work to protect the best interests of all parties while striving to meet the larger goals of the Collaborative Process. They will guide the parties in designing an agreement that is suitable for their needs and facilitate settlement discussions to ensure that all client requirements are addressed. Additionally, the attorneys will prepare any necessary documents to be filed with the Court to formalize the agreement.

Financial Specialist

The Collaborative Team financial specialist is an invaluable resource for any couple going through a divorce. Not only will they provide ongoing, practical financial guidance throughout the process, but they will also assist in discovering and gathering all necessary documentation and information related to both parties’ incomes, expenses, assets, and debts. Most importantly, their expertise allows them to help ensure that both parties are well informed of their current financial situation by providing clear explanations about the potential short and long-term consequences of any suggested settlement plan. With the expert advice and thorough understanding offered by the Collaborative Team financial specialist, couples can make confident decisions that best fit their individual needs.


There are requirements for what constitutes a Collaborative Divorce. Both parties must dedicate themselves to honesty, openness, and a willingness to place the welfare of the entire family first. The desire to change ineffective communication patterns and the commitment to work at change is vital to a successful outcome. Communication training is as critical to the process as the legal and financial negotiations. If dysfunctional patterns are not changed, conflict persists. It is this focus on changing the couple’s way of interacting with each other that makes the Collaborative Divorce process a better approach to both divorce and post-divorce co-parenting.

What Are The Advantages Of Collaborative Family Law?

  • Promotes cooperation between you and your former partner
  • You both have legal advisors at every stage of the process
  • Clients are often encouraged to bring in different experts where appropriate such as child specialists, counselors, accountants, and financial advisers
  • Generally saves you time and money
  • You are guaranteed that your lawyers will do their best to reach a fair agreement and try to keep you out of court
  • Litigation can never be threatened
  • Likely to produce an agreement that meets both your own needs

What Is The Difference Between Collaborative Law And Mediation?

Mediation involves a neutral third person (a mediator) that facilitates discussion between you and your former partner and does not give legal advice.

In a collaborative process, there are 4 people involved in all meetings:

  • You
  • Your former partner
  • Your lawyer
  • Your former partner’s lawyer

What Are The Key Features Of Collaborative Law?

  • You, your former partner, and both collaborative lawyers work as a team versus opposing parties
  • You, your spouse, and both collaborative lawyers sign a contract agreeing not to go to court
  • The Collaborative Family Law Process uses informal discussions and conferences to settle all issues
  • Collaborative Divorce offers separating couples an inter-disciplinary way of dealing with separation and divorce
  • Offers a dispute resolution model that provides a structure for both emotional support and legal guidance

What Are The Differences Between A Collaborative And Traditional Approach?

In a collaborative approach:

  • Both parties agree to stay out of court
  • The emphasis is on creating solutions that address the needs and values of the whole family
  • The main goal is to reach a fair, equitable, and comprehensive settlement of all issues outside of a courtroom

Collaborative law is not for everyone.

Not everyone is a good fit for collaborative law. Collaborative law will not help if one spouse is bound and determined to destroy the relationship. Similarly, if the opposing attorney is a true savage, he or she will have to work extremely hard to re-train the mind.

If you talk to divorced people, you’ll find that many of them regret their divorce or the fact that they can’t be in the same room together at their child’s high school graduation. Collaborative law allows parties to obtain a divorce while maintaining their self-esteem and being ready to move on with their lives.

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