Focus on Co-Parenting Relationship
Collaborative divorce protects divorcing families from litigation. It is a structured, step-by-step process where conflict management is foundational. Using effective communication skills, parents are encouraged to be objective, reach understandings based on informed consent, and build solutions to address broad interests, not inflexible positions. While the process terminates with the divorce decree, the long-term focus of collaborative divorce lay well beyond the decree, toward the quality of the co-parenting relationship that remains for parents afterward – and, truly, until “death do they part.”
Supported by a Professional Team
Collaborative divorce is supported by a team of allied professionals. Each spouse is represented by a collaborative lawyer. Both lawyers belong to the couple’s collaborative divorce team along with two neutral professionals, one mental health and one financial, who assist each spouse equally. Under the protections of the collaborative divorce process, the team works with the divorcing couple, together and independently, to facilitate agreement.
Predictability and Managed Conflict
Collaborative divorce is designed to minimize conflict, and conflict is actively managed throughout. The mental health professional facilitates any team meetings that include the divorcing couple. Meetings are predictable, conducted according to an agreed-upon agenda. Communication is encouraged using skills designed to minimize conflict. Threats of litigation are not permitted. The process is transparent; all relevant information and documents are disclosed voluntarily. Failure in transparency or pursuit of court action can terminate the collaborative divorce process.
Collaborative divorce avoids conflict by building, rather than forcing, solutions using interest-based techniques. Position-based resolutions, whether by mediation or court action, engage parents in conflict over limited solutions. The collaborative divorce process reveals a broader range of solutions by encouraging parents to see their concerns from a broader perspective. Instead of needing Johnny every Sunday without fail, Dad may simply need a regular time to be with his son. Dad can let go of Sundays and still feel satisfied with a broad range of solutions as long as they assure him regular time with his son.
All Parties Voluntarily Vested
Collaborative divorce is voluntary and can be terminated at any time. To counter-balance an impulse toward litigation, collaborative divorce is structured to vest all participants in it. From the outset, all resources are focused toward the goal of settlement. The neutrals are hired for the process alone. Likewise, the collaborative lawyers are restricted to the collaborative divorce process, disqualified from serving their clients in later litigation. Parties are loathe to hire brand new lawyers to pursue litigation unless absolutely necessary.