About Collaborative Practice
Divorce may be inevitable, but the way you divorce isn't.
Going through a divorce doesn't automatically mean having to endure the turmoil that is often associated with it. You now have another choice: Collaborative Practice, which includes the Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce models. Developed as an alternative to “divorce as usual”, Collaborative Practice offers couples a humane and solutions-based approach to ending a relationship. Collaborative Practice differs from conventional divorce in three important respects:
- The parties pledge in writing not to go to court.
- Face-to-face discussions between the spouses and their lawyers lead to an agreement.
- A respectful, problem-solving approach, often with the assistance of trained financial experts, child specialists and divorce coaches, replaces the often adversarial process of conventional divorce.
How it works.
Once you have chosen Collaborative Practice (Collaborative Law/Collaborative Divorce), you may take advantage of the option to put together a team to work with you as you make your way through this life transition. While you will always need to select Collaborative lawyers to assist you throughout the process, you may also choose to start the process with a Collaborative divorce coach or financial expert. Wherever you begin the process, you will have a chance to meet privately and together with your professionals. Collaborative Practice is unique in that it calls for both of you, and your lawyers, to come together for face-to-face discussions and negotiations—outside the courtroom. In an atmosphere of openness and honesty, all assets are disclosed, needs are communicated, and solutions are explored. When there are children, their interests are given foremost priority. The end result of Collaborative Practice is a divorce agreement that has been achieved through mutual problem solving. You, along with your lawyers and other chosen collaborative professionals, take control of shaping the final agreement, rather than having a settlement imposed on you by the court.
Though Collaborative Practice seeks to avoid going to court, legal agreements are being crafted. You each have your own attorneys who meet with you separately and confidentially to discuss your rights and obligations. The attorneys advise you on the relevant legal matters, from child custody and support to financial settlements, including property distribution. The attorneys also participate in four-way meetings (attorneys and clients), a mainstay of the collaborative process. They are trained to help keep the meetings safe and work to make them a constructive and comfortable place for the parties to create acceptable solutions to challenges they are facing.
Divorce is a major life transition; while it marks the end of one part of your life, it is also the beginning of another. A divorce coach helps you come to terms with the feelings associated with the changing relationship with your partner, while focusing on goals for the present and the future to aid in decreasing the unresolved conflicts. Each party will have their own divorce coach as well as a child specialist, should this be deemed helpful. The child specialist is there to assure that children are a priority, not a casualty for the changing family. Using the Collaborative Practice model, divorce coaches help you get through the changes divorce creates in families by helping the couple learn to interact and communicate with each other more respectfully and honestly. The couple uses these skills in their settlement discussions, and in their post-divorce parenting.
The divorce settlement will in part determine your financial well-being for many years to come. It is critical that the financial decisions be soundly structured. The guidance of a financial consultant will help protect the interests of your changing family. Reviewing all assets and income, the financial consultant will assist you in developing viable financial options for your future. Evaluating the choices, you and your lawyer can then construct a comprehensive plan for the next stage of your life. The fact that two households will have to be supported on the same income level that previously supported one underscores the importance of sound and comprehensive financial planning. The financial specialist is trained to consider in detail the economic future of your family and help reach creative solutions with the available resources.
Children may suffer most from divorce, and be least able to understand or express their feelings. Their world is being turned upside down in ways that they cannot begin to comprehend. Communication with parents may be difficult, if not impossible. A goal of Collaborative Practice is to assure that children are a priority, not a casualty. The child specialist, an individual skilled in understanding children, will meet with your children privately, assisting them in expressing their feelings and concerns about the divorce. Encouraging children to think creatively about the future, the child specialist then communicates the children’s feelings, concerns and hopes to you and to the team to consider when planning for the children’s lives.
The guidance of a vocational consultant will assist you in planning and developing a successful career plan. The vocational consultant will explore job options, earning capacity, your transferable employment skills, and the need for further education or training. You will be provided with a template of the steps necessary to enter or re-enter the job market. The plan will be designed with the intention of empowering you and establishing a career path consistent with appropriate earnings, your interests, skills and job opportunities.