There are divorce alternatives!

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Fair, Private and Respectful

The Collaborative Divorce model was developed in the early 1990s by attorneys, mental health professionals and financial planning experts whose experience with traditional divorce led them to the conclusion that family law litigation is injurious to families and especially to children. These experienced family law professionals were certain they could develop a healthier way to help families through divorce. The Collaborative Divorce model has grown rapidly throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and elsewhere because it has proven to be a healthier, more humane way to avoid the negative results of the adversarial divorce process.

All of our member groups are committed to the Collaborative Process, an approach to solving problems by reaching mutually agreeable solutions. Clients and professionals work together, respectfully and in good faith, to gather the information needed to reach an agreement. The goal is a win/win situation for all participants.

Typically, clients and professionals meet together to plan for information gathering, make interim arrangements, and discuss issues. A team will be assembled based on the participants’ needs and can include attorneys, communications coaches and child specialists (both roles are filled by mental health specialists), financial experts, and other professionals as needed. Information gathered will be shared with the other clients and team members in order to clarify each participant’s interests and stimulate ideas for possible solutions. All communications made during the Collaborative Process will remain confidential and will not be used as evidence if the case later goes to court.

A settlement that meets the approval of all clients can then be fashioned. This method of handling conflict is designed to minimize hostility and allow the participants the possibility of a cordial relationship in the future.

No matter the type of legal concern where the Collaborative Process is applied, its guiding principles remain the same. All clients and Collaborative professionals agree at the outset that the case will be settled, not contested. If the case cannot be settled, the attorneys and other professionals must withdraw, and the attorneys will assist the participants in finding new attorneys to help them settle the case through the traditional court system. Even in these cases, some groundwork will have been laid for a more effective way of clients working together and resolving their differences in the future.

How to Find A Collaborative Divorce Team

A team approach is crucial in collaborative divorce. Lawyers, financial specialists, mental health professionals, and child health specialists come together to support you and your family through the divorce proceedings.

Collaborative divorce professionals often suggest the professionals who will be appropriate for your specific situation. You will ultimately need to decide who will be on the team.

A collaborative divorce team is a gathering of professionals skilled in different areas of expertise. This works for the benefit of the client. When you have specialists in each area of work, you will get value for the money spent.

A collaborative team consists of:

  • A collaborative divorce attorney (for each spouse)
  • Financial specialist
  • Mental health professionals
  • Child health specialist

The financial specialist and child health specialist are neutral and don’t represent you or your spouse. These professionals provide their expertise so that the collaborative divorce process is completed in an informed and amicable manner.

The team members are engaged at the beginning of the collaborative process. They attend all joint meetings. The specialists may also meet the wife and husband separately or together at various times of the collaborative proceedings.

Collaborative Divorce Attorney

Each attorney guides you through the legal aspects of the divorce. You get advice about the law on collaborative divorce proceedings. The attorneys draft documents and help both of you through the process. You will not need to go to court in a collaborative divorce!

Financial Specialists

Money is often the biggest issue in any divorce. A neutral financial specialist will help you and your spouse by gathering financial data, establishing potential budgets, and providing options for the division of property, debt, and income.

The finance specialist will help you and your spouse understand the various financial implications of the collaborative divorce process. They will help you gain knowledge about your current and future financial situation.

The finance professional will also help you prepare balance sheets and budgets. They will provide assistance in identifying the different finance options available to you after the divorce. A financial plan is developed to protect the well-being of your family.

Mental Health Professionals.

Divorce proceedings are stressful. The mental health professional will help manage the emotional strain and pain of divorce. This will enable you to focus on the goals for the present and future.

You will be able to learn communication techniques from the mental health professional. This will help you talk respectfully to your spouse even during the divorce proceedings.

The mental health professionals will also help you and your spouse tell your child, family, and friends about the divorce. They will ensure that the joint meetings go smoothly, and progress is made in the collaborative divorce process.

Child Health Specialists

A child health specialist will help in creating parenting schedules, plans, and other co-parenting arrangements that are customized to fit the unique needs of the family. The best interest of the child is a priority when making all arrangements.

Tips to Find and Hire a Collaborative Divorce Team

  • Trained in Collaborative Divorce

Most attorneys, financial specialists, mental health professionals, and child health specialists call themselves “collaborative,” but they may not meet the basic requirements. The collaborative attorney and other professionals should have attended basic collaborative training.

The professionals should attend training sessions at regular intervals to update their skills. The collaborative practice can change and evolve, and the training will help the professionals keep up with the requirements.

Trained collaborative professionals belong to a local collaborative group that usually has a web site.  Google “Collaborative Divorce” and look for a local practice group.

  • Experience in Collaborative Divorce Cases

It is advisable to check if the attorney is a member of a collaborative divorce practice such as Collaborative Practice San Diego. Attorneys who are committed to collaborative divorce practices are often members of a collaborative divorce practice.

Check how long they have done collaborative work. You can also ask them about the total number of cases they have successfully handled. Ask them any questions you may have about collaborative divorce. An experienced attorney will be able to answer them properly.

Apart from the attorneys, the other professionals should also have experience in the collaborative process and belong to a collaborative practice group.

  • Location

You don’t have to worry about the office location of the attorney. The meetings can be held at any place. They can be held at the office of the attorney or any of the neutral specialists.

The location should be convenient for both parties to the divorce proceedings.

  • Gut Feeling

Trust your gut feeling when choosing a collaborative divorce team. You should have a good feeling about the attorneys and other professionals and be able to communicate with them comfortably. A good team of professionals will be able to guide you properly through the divorce proceedings.

The collaborative divorce team adds a layer of expertise to the divorce process. This gives you the confidence that the settlement you and your spouse are creating using the collaborative process is the best.