Divorce is a sensitive personal matter. No single approach is right for everyone. Many couples do find the no-court process known as Collaborative Law (Collaborative Practice/Collaborative Divorce) a welcome alternative to the often destructive, uncomfortable aspects of conventional divorce.
If these values are important to you, Collaborative Law is likely to be a workable option for you:
- I want to maintain the tone of respect, even when we disagree.
- I want to prioritize the needs of our children.
- My needs and those of my spouse require equal consideration, and I will listen objectively.
- I believe that working creatively and cooperatively solves issues.
- It is important to reach beyond today’s frustration and pain to plan for the future.
- I can behave ethically toward my spouse.
- I choose to maintain control of the divorce process with my spouse, and not relegate it to the courts.
Does this path sound and feel comfortable for you? Please contact Sara Ross about your situation to help you make the decision.
What is Collaborative Practice?
Collaborative Law is a voluntary dispute resolution process in which parties settle without resort to litigation. In Collaborative Law:
- The parties sign a collaborative participation agreement describing the nature and scope of the matter;
- The parties voluntarily disclose all information which is relevant and material to the matter that must be decided;
- The parties agree to use good faith efforts in their negotiations to reach a mutually acceptable settlement;
- Each party must be represented by a lawyer whose representation terminates upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding;
- The parties may engage mental health and financial professionals whose engagement terminates upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding; and
- The parties may jointly engage other experts as needed.
Collaborative Practice, including Collaborative Law and interdisciplinary Collaborative Divorce, is a new way for you to resolve disputes respectfully — without going to court — while working with trained professionals who are important to all areas of your life. The term incorporates all of the models developed since IACP’s Minnesota lawyer Stu Webb created Collaborative Law ideas in the 1980s.
The heart of Collaborative Law or Collaborative Divorce (also called “no-court divorce,” “divorce with dignity,” “peaceful divorce”) is to offer you and your spouse or partner the support, protection, and guidance of your own lawyers without going to court. Additionally, Collaborative Divorce allows you the benefit of child and financial specialists, divorce coaches and other professionals all working together on your team.
In Collaborative Law, core elements form your contractual commitments, which are to:
- Negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement without having courts decide issues.
- Maintain open communication and information sharing.
- Create shared solutions acknowledging the highest priorities of all.
*Most information on this page is reproduced with permission from the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“IACP”) website (www.collaborativepractice.com). The original text from IACP has been edited slightly to fit the context of this website.
Sara Ross: Collaborative law is a new way of resolving family disputes so that we look at transforming the family. Instead of ending a relationship, we are transforming the relationship to help the family rebuild a different kind of life. And the idea is that, instead of litigating in court, the parties agree to work together outside of court, with their lawyers, in a cooperative way to resolve all of the issues.
In particular, I think it is so helpful for people who have children, because learning how to work through whatever issues prompted the divorce, and how to find respect and caring for each other, so that they can co-parent, is really an amazing thing. And not only is that helpful for parents, but it is a completely different world for children. What I see children experience in traditional litigated divorces versus a collaborative divorce is night and day.
One of the things that is really important about collaborative is that it stays private. All of it takes place within four closed walls. That’s just you and your lawyers. The other thing with the collaborative process is that you have got as much or as little time as you need to complete the process.
I encourage folks, if they are going to do collaborative, is have a conversation with a formally collaboratively trained attorney, in just talking about the differences—because it is a big choice to decide which way to go—and speak with their spouse about what that looks like. Everyone needs to be ready to move forward with that process.