How to Complete a Collaborative Divorce in Oregon

A great number of couples are looking for non-adversarial options to resolve the terms of their divorce. Learn how the Collaborative Divorce model allows Oregon couples to develop a respectful and lasting agreement outside of the adversarial court process.


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    Determine if the Collaborative Process is right for you by speaking to a Collaboratively-trained lawyer. There are pros and cons to this process. In general, clients find the Collaborative Process provides more tools for the development of creative solutions than the standard adversarial process. It is also often cheaper than a litigated case that you start in the Oregon courts, since parties hire neutral experts rather than two sets of battling experts.
    • However, if the Collaborative Process is not completed by the parties, they must hire new litigation counsel because the Collaborative lawyers may not represent the parties in court. Even in those unusual situations when the process is unsuccessful, parties may choose to use the work they have done in the Collaborative process to move the adversarial process forward more quickly.
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    Work with your lawyer on initial stages. Once parties have retained attorneys, the attorneys schedule an initial meeting to discuss the case and plan an agenda for the first team meeting. The attorneys then meet with their respective clients to prepare for the first meeting, as well as provide the client with information about the framework of the process and what to expect in the first meeting.
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    Handle all negotiations and substantive discussions in four-way team meetings (two attorneys, two clients). At the first team meeting, the team will sign a Participation Agreement committing the lawyers and clients to work towards a fair and comprehensive settlement without resorting to threats of litigation. Instead of positional bargaining, the team approaches negotiation from an interest-based mindset. This helps develop more lasting agreements, in that both parties understand the needs that are being met by the ultimate agreement.
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    Provide financial documents to the team. Both clients will be asked to do this. Clients are expected to be honest, transparent, and to voluntarily disclose all information relevant to reaching a settlement. Neither party (or their attorney) may hide information or assets. The attorneys use this financial information in future four-way team meetings to help provide clients with solutions for the division of assets and future financial support.
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    Work as a team to decide together whether additional professionals may be helpful to the process. The team may bring in neutral professionals to help with problem-solving or to provide information, such as a financial neutral to provide support and asset division scenarios, a child specialist to help develop a parenting plan, or a mental health professional to help deal with communication issues.
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    Work on collaborative solutions. Over the course of additional team meetings, the parties have the opportunity to develop creative solutions that are not available in court. This provides clients with a great deal of control to address the specific facts or challenges of their case. It also allows for the preservation of relationships, to allow parents to co-parent more effectively post-divorce. In addition to settling financial matters, the team will discuss issues of child custody, child support, and parenting time. Collaborative teams have a much greater ability to craft child-centered parenting plans and agreements on children’s expenses, as compared to what a judge may do.
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    Finish up the paperwork. Once agreements have been reached on all issues, the attorneys will prepare the necessary paperwork to file the divorce. Up until this point, nothing is filed with the court, so the parties are not operating on the court’s timeline. Once the final document (called a General Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage) is signed by a judge, the divorce is final. The attorneys will then help the parties effectuate the terms of their agreement, such as transferring real estate, dividing retirement accounts, etc.


  • It is important to feel comfortable with your attorney during this process. Even though a specific attorney you meet with practices in Collaborative Divorce, they still may not be the right lawyer for your. It is not unusual for clients to interview several attorneys until they find somebody with whom they feel they can work with effectively.
  • You should be wary of attorneys practicing in the Collaborative Divorce process who are "sitting on the fence" with regard to the process. Although some attorneys hold themselves out as "collaborative," these attorneys hedge their bets and also prepare for a litigated solution. A truly collaborative attorney will be committed to the process for the entirety of the case, recognizing that they will need to withdraw if the collaborative process fails.


  • wikiHow and internet research should never be substituted for the advice of an experienced family law attorney, even in the Collaborative Divorce process. Because every case is fact-specific, you should discuss your case with an attorney before making any legal decisions.

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Categories: Divorce | Retaining a Lawyer