Increasing awareness of the emotional damage and financial impact that can be done by a contentious divorce process is causing a paradigm shift in how people think about divorce. More and more couples are considering alternative dispute resolution strategies to end their marriages. Collaborative divorce is a new alternative which attempts to minimize the negative consequences of divorce. The goal of the collaborative divorce is to reach a settlement of the issues in a cooperative manner without court intervention.
This is achieved through adherence to a number of principles that are fundamental to the overall collaborative divorce process and part of the participation agreement that all parties sign when beginning the process.
All parties entering into the collaborative process commit to the following principles.
Honesty and Transparency
In order to achieve a resolution of all of the issues it is necessary that all parties have a clear understanding of the facts including the value of assets, income and expenses. When all parties commit to full disclosure, it can significantly reduce the time, cost and conflict that is often a part of the traditional divorce process. It also helps to ensure that the parties are making educated, fully-informed decisions, resulting in lasting Agreements.
This environment of full disclosure and honesty supports cooperation in all areas. Without the usual fighting and faultfinding so often part of conventional divorce, the couple is free to focus on creative solutions and the needs of the children and family.
In a collaborative divorce, all parties sign a participation agreement where they commit to resolving all matters directly and without court intervention. This agreement stipulates that, should the couple abandon the collaborative process for court proceedings, the lawyers involved in the collaborative process will be unable to continue representing either spouse. Therefore, if the parties are unable to reach a mutually acceptable resolution and desire to proceed to court they will have to hire new attorneys. The same principle applies to any other the other professionals working with the parties collaboratively. When the lawyers also share a mutual commitment to reaching a resolution within the collaborative process there is no longer any place for posturing or threats.
Focus On The Future
While traditional divorce litigation tends to put the spotlight on the past and what went wrong, collaborative approach to divorce turns the attention to the future and where the couple wants to be when the process is over. Couples are encouraged to make their children a priority and to express their needs, interests and goals so they can find ways to create solutions that are win-win for everyone. This change of perspective tends to be more conducive to amicable discussions and a mutually beneficial resolution.
Resolutions That Meet Everyone’s Needs
When a couple has been able to clearly identify the matters that need to be resolved, as well as their goals and priorities in an open and cooperative environment, they are more equipped to find creative solutions that meet the needs of both parties and their children. This applies to extended family members as well. It isn’t just the immediate family that is impacted by an adversarial divorce.