While many lawyers say they practice “collaborative divorce” or that all their divorces are collaborative, in strict legal terms, a collaborative divorce is a specific process that abides by certain basic requirements including three core principles:
- A pledge not to permit court interference
- An honest exchange of information by both spouses
- A solution that takes into account the highest priorities of both spouses and their children
How it works
The no court pledge
Both spouses and their lawyers sign a contract promising to participate in a respectful process resulting in an out-of-court settlement that meets the legitimate interests of both spouses and their children. In fact, the lawyers agree to withdraw from the case if the spouses do not abide by their collaborative obligations (for example if they file motions with the court or refuse to disclose important financial information). This no court pledge empowers and enables you and your partner to keep control of the decisions made in your situation rather than giving decision making authority to a judge. With a collaborative divorce, the goal is to develop effective relationships among the participants, solve problems jointly, and prevent a court battle.
Collaborative divorce provides for face-to-face meetings with you, your spouse, your respective lawyers, and sometimes other advisors. You and your spouse actively participate in creating solutions rather than leaving the responsibility for your lives in the hands of other people. Our joint meetings allow spouses to develop trust in the strength of the collaborative process, accuracy of information exchanged, and often for the first time in years, their spouse. When concerns and goals are openly discussed, problem solving can be direct and focused solutions are achievable.
A creative, future-focused agreement you can feel comfortable with
Collaborative divorce focuses on identifying the legitimate interests and needs of both spouses and your children and fashioning plans that meet these interests and needs. Rather than concentrating on the past and imposing blame, we look forward to the future by building on areas of agreement. Instead of being limited to what a court may order after trial, you and your spouse are encouraged to think creatively about what is best for your family.