How to Do a Collaborative Divorce

Couples wishing to split amicably may opt for a different solution than standard divorce, a solution that saves both money and time spent – collaborative divorce. Learn how to do a collaborative divorce to end your marriage as smoothly and stress-free as possible via a negotiated agreement instead of hours in and out of court.


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    Talk to your spouse about the possibility of using the collaborative technique for your divorce. If you are both in agreement that the marriage needs to end, you can agree to contact collaborative attorneys.
    • You will each need your own attorney (unlike mediation when you use just one attorney for both of you), but they must be attorneys who handle collaborative cases.
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    Understand the benefits of this form of divorce, namely that it's less costly both monetarily and in time spent in attorneys' offices and court. This means less stress on you, your spouse and your children; everything is worked out and signed by both parties before the divorce papers are ever filed in court. This way, the judge merely approves the agreement and doesn't have to make decisions for you.
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    Recognize the drawbacks to collaborative divorce, too. If either you or your spouse has any apprehension about trying this method, you may want to rethink collaboration.
    • In collaborative divorce as in mediation, if the negotiation falls apart and the attorneys feel at any point that your case can't be handled amicably, both sides' attorneys must pull out of the case. You must then start over with new attorneys. You will also lose the retainer and any other money you've paid that the attorneys and their staffs have already spent on your case.
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    Meet with your attorney to go over the concerns, issues and goals of a collaborative divorce. Your attorney will ask you details about your marriage and pending dissolution of the union to determine if there are any barriers that could cause the collaborative process to stall or be unsuccessful. This would include physical or mental abuse, infidelity, safety issues, mental health issues or anything that could hamper any mutually-agreed upon conditions.
    • Your spouse should also contact a collaborative attorney to disclose all his or her information.
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    Hold your first four-way settlement meeting between you, your spouse and both of your attorneys. During this meeting, you'll provide full disclosure of all complaints, financial records and anything to this point you may have hidden or not fully-disclosed to each other.
    • The attorneys will require you to speak respectfully to each other at all times during all meetings. You'll most likely be required to agree to not speak ill of your spouse to anyone, even privately; a completely non-adversarial attitude is required to make this form of divorce work. And neither party can take advantage of any error the other party may make.
    • Each side's attorney will work as the advocate for their client, advising and suggesting workable solutions so you get the outcome you want but also is one that is mutually agreeable to your spouse.
    • Your attorneys will also require you to leave any children involved in the case out of any discussions; this is referred to as "insulating the children." The attorneys will not involve the children unless absolutely necessary (for example, a child is old enough to determine which parent he wants to live with).
    • Both spouses will secure help from neutral experts as needed to solve any disputes about issues like real estate, parenting issues and financial advisers. Both parties will agree to share the costs of any necessary experts.


  • Understand the differences between mediation, collaboration and standard divorce. In mediation, the couples use only one attorney who handles both sides, then gives a script to the petitioner to read when standing before the judge on the appointed court day. Standard divorce, of course, involves each side's attorneys working on their own files until every detail is ironed out. Sometimes these details are decided by the judge if the couple can't agree on certain details.

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Categories: Divorce