1. Why should I consider a Collaborative Divorce Process?

The Collaborative Divorce Process is a more effective method to resolve your disputes. When you eliminate the contentious and aggressive Court process, you have an opportunity to resolve your disputes in a fair and cooperative atmosphere, with professionals supporting you in achieving resolution.

2. Why is the Collaborative Divorce Process so effective?

The Collaborative team’s approach to resolving disputes involves an open and honest exchange of information. Everyone makes a commitment to not take advantage of the other. The goal is not for an individual “win” but to achieve the most beneficial outcome for all of the family members in transition. The Team expects good-faith problem solving behavior from the clients and all the professionals on the team.

3. What is the difference between Collaborative Divorce Process and conventional divorce?

In conventional divorce, one client sues the other for divorce and sets in motion a series of legal steps. These eventually result in a resolution achieved with the involvement of the court. Unfortunately, clients going through a conventional divorce can come to view each other as adversaries, and their divorce as a battleground. The ensuing conflicts can take an immense toll on the emotions of all the participants, especially the children.

Collaborative Divorce Process, by definition, is a non-adversarial approach to divorce. The clients—and their lawyers—pledge in writing not to go to court. They negotiate in good faith, and achieve a mutually-agreed upon settlement outside of court. The cooperative nature of Collaborative Divorce Process can greatly ease the emotional strain caused by the breakup of a relationship, and protect the well-being of family.

4. What is the difference between Collaborative Divorce Process and mediation?

In mediation, an impartial third party (the mediator) facilitates the negotiations of the disputing clients and tries to help them settle their case. However, the mediator cannot give either party legal advice, and cannot be an advocate for either side. If there are lawyers for the clients, they may or may not be present at the mediation sessions, but if they are not present, the parties can consult their counsel between mediation sessions. If an agreement is reached, a draft of the settlement terms is usually prepared by the mediator for review and editing by the parties and counsel.

Collaborative Divorce Process was designed to allow clients to have their lawyers with them during the negotiation process, while maintaining the same commitment to settlement as the sole agenda. It is the job of the lawyers, who have received training similar to the training that mediators receive in interest-based negotiation, to work with their own clients and one another to assure that the process stays balanced, positive and productive. Once an agreement is reached, it is drafted by the lawyers and reviewed and edited by the both lawyers and the clients, until both clients are satisfied with the document.

Both Collaborative Divorce Process and mediation rely on the voluntary and free exchange of information and a commitment to resolutions that respect the clients shared goals. In the Collaborative Divorce Process, the lawyers and clients sign an agreement, which aligns everyone’s interests in the direction of resolution, and specifically provides that the Collaborative Attorneys and any other professional team members will be disqualified from participating in litigation if the Collaborative Divorce Process is terminated without an agreement being reached. Professional advice should be sought when deciding whether mediation or the Collaborative Divorce Process is the best process for any individual case.

5. What is the “Interdisciplinary Team Model”?

The interdisciplinary collaborative team model is a multi-disciplinary team approach to dispute resolution, which includes attorneys, communication coaches, a financial specialist, and a child specialist with all team members working interactively as co-equals.

Team members are selected by the clients at the beginning of the case. The team is ideally made up of the clients; two Collaborative Lawyers, one for each partner; two communication coaches, one for each partner; a child specialist who represents the voice of the child(ren); and one neutral financial specialist. A key element of the team approach is that the clients can enter into the Collaborative Divorce Process through any “door”; a client, for example, might first contact a collaborative communication coach, a Collaborative Lawyer or a collaborative financial specialist to begin the process. Regardless of which “door” they enter, the clients will be guided to select their team. This integrated model provides the clients with the services they need from the professional most qualified to address the complex issues of divorce. Working together, these collaborative professionals help divorcing clients achieve an outcome that would not be possible without this cooperative team involvement.

The team approach can also be adapted to disputes other than divorces and termination of domestic partnerships.

6. Is the Collaborative Divorce Process a faster way to reach an acceptable settlement?

Individual circumstances determine how quickly any dispute resolution process proceeds. However, the Collaborative Divorce Process can be a more direct and efficient form of resolution. From the start, it focuses on problem solving, not blaming or endlessly airing grievances. Full disclosure and open communications help to assure that all issues are discussed in a timely manner. Finally, because settlement is reached out of court, there is no waiting for the multiple court appearances that may be necessary with conventional litigation.

7. How does Collaborative Divorce Process focus
on the future?

Divorce and termination of domestic partnerships are both an ending and a beginning. Collaborative Divorce Process helps each client anticipate their needs in moving forward, and include these in the discussions. When children are involved, the Collaborative Divorce Process makes their future a number one priority. As a more respectful, dignified process, the Collaborative Divorce Process helps families make a smoother transition to the next stage of their lives. The same benefits can also be achieved in employment, real estate, business, probate and other civil contexts.

8. What is Civil Collaborative Divorce Process?

Collaborative Divorce Process is a term encompassing all of the models which have been developed, including those involving interdisciplinary teams of professionals trained to work together with the clients in resolving disputes respectfully, without going to court. At the heart of all of Collaborative cases is that each client has the support and guidance of his or her own lawyer, as well as access to additional professionals who can provide support in their areas of training. While Collaborative Lawyers are always a part of collaboration, in the Civil Collaborative Divorce Process communication coaches, financial consultants, and other professionals are retained to provide the clients with the highest quality service possible. The team of Collaborative Professionals uses strategies and techniques geared toward dispute resolution rather than adversarial proceedings.

9. How does the Civil Collaborative Process work?

A typical collaborative case consists of two clients who each select independent Collaborative Attorneys, who work with the team with the goal of resolving all of the issues. The clients and their attorneys enter into a formal agreement that under no circumstances will they go to court. If a settlement cannot be reached both clients must hire new attorneys. The process requires a significant shift in thinking for the attorneys and the clients. New roles are based on the clients controlling the outcome, voluntary and good faith exchange of all relevant information and refraining from making threats of litigation.

10. What kinds of civil disputes are appropriate for the Collaborative Divorce Process?

In theory, any matter that can be litigated is capable of resolution through the Civil Collaborative Divorce Process. Disputes in the areas of Business, Commercial, Construction, Contracts, Corporations, Elders, Estates and Trusts, Environmental, Franchise, Insurance, Intellectual Property, International Disputes, Labor, Mergers and Acquisitions, Partnerships, Personal Injury, Probate, Professional, Malpractice, Real Property Transactions, Securities/Antitrust, Sports and Entertainment, and Torts, are prime examples.