In collaborative process, you and your spouse will each be represented by attorneys who have been trained in collaborative practice. The attorneys and clients have one goal, the cooperative resolution of all issues without the threat of trial. In order to do this, you and your spouse and your respective attorneys will work together to gather the information necessary to understand the family's finances. We will also talk about settlement options and issues in a sensitive and respectful manner through a series of meetings around a conference table - and not in a Courtroom - in order to reach a settlement. The terms of that settlement will then be put into written form and presented to the Court for approval by a Judge. In this way, you and your spouse will have decided upon the terms of your divorce instead of leaving it to a Judge to decide them for you. (See how this differs from Litigation.)
If, however, the collaborative process does not work, either you or your spouse may bring that process to an end and file a contested divorce action in Court. If that happens, both collaborative attorneys must withdraw and you must hire successor attorneys. Also, the information that has been gathered cannot be used in the court proceedings unless you both agree to do so.
The collaborative approach works best if you and your spouse, despite the break-down of the marriage, are able to communicate effectively with each other. Unlike mediation, the collaborative process allows you to have the active involvement and advice of an experienced divorce attorney to guide and advocate for you throughout the process.
Collaborative divorce works on a team approach. The team consists of both parties and their respective attorneys and a divorce coach - a professional with a therapeutic background to address emotional impediments to agreement. Other professionals may be added to the team, as needed, such as a financial neutral, accountant, appraiser or child expert.
The collaborative law approach is often less expensive than litigation since court appearances are avoided and costs are not duplicated.