Collaborative family law or collaborative divorce is a shorthand reference for a process that allows couples to arrive at a final divorce settlement without going through traditional divorce litigation.
What is the Collaborative Process?
The collaborative process offers an out-of-court alternative to divorcing couples who wish to avoid the cost, stress and unpredictability of divorce litigation.
In a collaborative case, each party is represented by an attorney. Working together as a team in joint sessions, the parties, their attorneys and allied professionals seek to identify the needs, interests and priorities of each family member as well as the areas where the parties disagree.
The collaborative team then assists the parties in using problem-solving strategies to resolve these disagreements and to arrive at a carefully thought-out settlement that meets the needs of each family member.
How does the Collaborative Process Work?
At the beginning of every collaborative case, the attorneys, the parties, and other participating professionals enter into a written agreement called the “Participation Agreement.”
The participation agreement sets out the guidelines for the process. The cornerstone of the agreement is the disqualification of the attorneys and other allied professionals from participating in divorce litigation if the parties are unable to arrive at a settlement.
The disqualification requirement ensures that the attorneys focus on the success of the process. It also prevents either attorney from resorting to the threat of taking a case to trial. Finally, it allows parties to identify their goals and interests and frees them from the emotional and financial cost of divorce litigation.
What is the End Product of the Collaborative Process?
The goal of the collaborative process is to arrive at a final divorce settlement that meets the needs of all family members. The settlement may include an agreement about how the parties will divide their property and debts.
If the parties have minor children, the agreement will also address physical custody, legal custody and child support.
Once the agreement is put in writing, it will be submitted to a superior court judge. The judge will approve the agreement and then enter the final decree of divorce.
Posted in: Divorce