The Collaborative divorce involves an interdisciplinary team assembled to meet each family’s needs during the divorce process. In recognition that divorce is not simply a legal event, but in fact is a complex restructuring of life’s most important relationships, the Collaborative divorce is designed to provide the professional support necessary for divorcing individuals themselves to be able to make decisions for the family, rather than having important choices dictated to them by the court through the adversarial legal process.
The team is made up of professionals who have been trained in the Collaborative Divorce process and includes two attorneys, one for each party, and two neutrals: a Collaborative divorce facilitator and a divorce financial planner. When needed, a child specialist, a realtor, or any other needed expert, could be involved to offer their assistance. The goal of all of the professionals is to support, inform, educate and empower the divorcing couple to make their own decisions through the Collaborative process. The process is designed to have the right services provided at the right time by the right professional.
The parties do not spend as much time with their attorneys as they would in a more traditional, court-based divorce. The Collaborative facilitator keeps the process on track, insures that the parties understand their part in the process, and provides the emotional support and communication skills needed to work together in spite of the divorce. It is significant that they charge less per hour than the attorney’s, so overall costs are reduced. The facilitator helps defuse the emotional “heat” and help the entire family make the necessary adjustment from one tense home to two relatively balanced and harmonious homes.
In preparation for the settlement discussion stage the parties will produce and exchange with each other all the documentation that is required as if the case had already been filed in the court. The negotiation process takes place in a meeting with the guidance and support of the professionals. The discussion will be framed to help the parties move beyond their stated desires to an analysis of their needs and the needs of their children. When the parties focus on determining the specific need behind their stated request more options for settlement usually occur. More options to discuss can lead to both parties having their needs met. This negotiation process enables the parties to objectively consider solutions to the issues of their divorce, in spite of their fears and hurt feelings.