For divorcing couples who want to avoid courtroom battles, a collaborative divorce process may be the answer. In a collaborative divorce, a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), the parties and their attorneys—specially trained in collaborative divorce procedures—come together to reach agreements regarding important issues such as child custody, financial support and property division.

Because divorce involves much more than legal concerns, the couple may also choose to involve neutral professionals from other disciplines—mental health counselors, financial advisors and child or parenting specialists—in the process.

Collaborative divorce proceedings are often concluded more quickly and cost less than traditional divorces litigated through the court system.

How Does Collaborative Divorce Work?

From the beginning of the process, both parties must commit to collaborative divorce, and this includes agreeing to act with respect and in good faith so that the couple can come to an agreement. That includes being on their good behavior in and outside of the negotiations—including protecting children from adverse aspects of the divorce.

Although the attorneys always represent the interests of their respective clients, they also work toward the common goal of collaboration and eventual agreement. Therefore, the couple must also agree that, if either pulls out to pursue litigation, both attorneys must also withdraw, and the parties must hire new representation for litigation. The couple should also openly disclose all essential documents; share experts (including cost) such as accountants, appraisers and other consultants; and commit to achieving the best results for both parties.

All of this happens outside the courtroom, and, unlike mediation, there is no neutral third-party to oversee the sessions.

Just as in mediation, the couple must decide on the issues to be addressed and work through them together. Since there is no mediator, however, it is especially important that both parties are open and willing to communicate with each other.

Once the parties agree on divorce terms, the attorneys prepare and present a signed agreement to the court to finalize proceedings.

For couples who are ready to work with their attorneys on a joint resolution of divorce, collaborative divorce is a solid option.

Mary C. Neff, JD | Attorney | | (314) 454-9100 ext. 109 | Learn more about Mary