The Law Office of Jennifer Marshall, Esq

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce is the newest method of alternative dispute resolution. Instead of both parties litigating their divorce, the collaborative process is designed to allow spouses to negotiate with each other’s best interests at heart.

The process starts with both spouses retaining an attorney, each of whom is part of a collaborative law group that offers financial advisors, mortgage advisors and accountants, as needed. All parties sign a participation agreement promising to try to settle differences in a non-adversarial manner.

If emotions run high during the process, the collaborative practice offers mental health professionals to step in and cool things down.  If a settlement is not reached, both attorneys pledge to withdraw from the process, so spouses would have to find new lawyers and start fresh before pursuing litigation.

The spouses and their attorneys then start a series of four-party meetings to work out the details, from property and assets to custody and child visitation.  Everyone in the meeting participates equally.

The collaborative process is different from mediation.  In mediation, there’s a mediator and each spouse has an attorney.  Everyone sits with a mediator hoping to settle some disagreements. Eventually, the attorneys make it all legal.

Not all couples fall into the category of collaborative divorce.  Separations that involve domestic violence, a controlling spouse or one spouse hiding assets wouldn’t work in the collaborative model. A major benefit of collaborative divorce is that it’s less expensive than litigated divorce.

If you think collaborative divorce could work for you, speak to an attorney about the process today.