About Collaborative Divorce
If divorce is inevitable, couples now have an alternative to the oftentimes painful and lengthy court proceedings that occur with the typical adversarial litigation. With Collaborative Divorce, spouses can choose to settle their differences in a respectful and dignified manner, while protecting their legal and financial interests, and still maintaining the well-being of their children and themselves, all without court intervention.
In most collaborative cases, three independent disciplines work together as a team, the spouses being the most important members of the team, by maintaining a primary focus on the needs of the children and the welfare of the family overall.
Certain principles are basic to the collaborative process. These principles are expressly and mutually agreed to by the spouses, attorneys, and the appropriate mental health and financial specialists in a document entitled The Participation Agreement. At its most basic, the Participation Agreement includes:
- A promise by the parties and the professionals to negotiate in good faith and to provide full and complete disclosure of all relevant information;
- A promise to work toward resolution of all issues without so much as a threat of court intervention; and if either party seeks court intervention, all the professionals must withdraw from further representing these spouses and the spouses must retain new litigation counsel;
- A promise that all communications which occur and all documents that are generated in connection with the collaborative process will be inadmissible in any future court proceeding, without the express written consent of the parties.
- A promise to cooperatively participate in joint sessions with the necessary professionals in order to achieve the best possible settlement for the family
The collaborative divorce process is controlled by the parties. It keeps the decision-making power where it belongs, with the people who will be affected by the outcome. This is very different from the court process where ultimately court imposed and state statute formulas will determine what the financial and co-parenting arrangements will be. In the collaborative divorce process, the parties retain full decision making authority and control.
There are rules for what will constitute a collaborative divorce. Both spouses must dedicate themselves to honesty, openness and a willingness to place the welfare of the entire family in the very first place. Communication training is as vital to the process as the legal and financial negotiations. The collaborative attorneys will very thoroughly go over the Participation Agreement with the spouses to ensure they understand every aspect of what is expected of them.
See our interview in Omaha Magazine: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/om0616_omag_125