How does the Collaborative Divorce Process work?
To reach a divorce settlement using Collaborative Law, you and your spouse each retain a family lawyer specially trained to practice Collaborative Law. We act as legal advisors and problem solvers rather than as adversaries because you all must agree, in writing, not to go to court to settle your issues.
We then carefully go through the Four Phases of the Collaborative Divorce Process with the goal of reaching a settlement that meets the needs of all concerned.
In the event a settlement cannot be reached, your spouse’s lawyer and I must withdraw. This creates an incentive for everyone to collaborate and reach agreements.
The Four Phases of Collaborative Divorce: The Road Map
The Collaborative Divorce process is divided into four phases. Each of the four phases has clear boundaries and distinct purposes.
Phase 1 is about initiating the “process” and establishing the basis for a “team approach”.
Phase 2 is the information gathering and education stage, where the goal is to create a universal understanding of the family’s financial, emotional and behavioral dynamics.
During Phase 3, based upon the information developed in Phase 2, options are developed and the consequences of each option are discussed.
Finally, during Phase 4, decisions are made and the necessary documentation is prepared and signed.
Phase 1: Initiating the Collaborative Process
- locate a Collaborative professional, an attorney, financial planner or mental health professional;
- schedule a four-way meeting (the divorcing couple and each participant’s Collaboratively trained professional);
- sign Sample Collaborative Law Contract and address any immediate needs; get to know one another
Phase 2: Information Gathering
- “tour the marital estate”: inventory assets, liabilities, incomes and needs of children
- exchange goals and objectives
- develop listening skills
Phase 3: Create Options
- consider possible solutions that meet the needs of the family
- discuss pluses and minuses of each option in safety of Collaborative process
Phase 4: Settle on Solution
- negotiate settlement which meets as many goals and objectives of each party as possible
- finalize all agreement