How To Begin The Collaborative Divorce Process

collaborative divorceBy Julie Garrison

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As discussed in yesterday’s divorce article “Collaborative Divorce vs. Contested Divorce,” in a collaborative divorce, the parties are encouraged to communicate what is important about an issue, instead of arguing about a specific position or remedy.

With this type of mutual exchange, the parties are cooperating with each other instead of insisting on a position and not taking into account where an estranged spouse is coming from.

This new method of alternative resolution is based on a different way of bargaining than the negotiating type that has always been used in family law cases.

If you want to pursue a collaborative divorce, here’s where you begin:

1. First, talk to your wife about using the collaborative divorce method. Explain to her that it is a team of experts who not only iron out all of the legal issues, but who also address the physical and emotional needs and concerns of both the parties and their children.

Tell her that, even though the two of you are ending your marriage, you will still be parents for the rest of your lives. With this in mind, long-term recovery from a divorce is more complete and the children fare much better during and after the collaborative process.

2. If your wife agrees to the collaborative divorce method, then the next step for both of you is to find an attorney who specializes in this type of divorce law.

3. The lawyers will have both of you read and sign a “participation agreement” where you both contract to a collaborative approach to your divorce.

4. Both attorneys will begin identifying the issues while remaining committed to finding effective ways to assist the parties in reaching agreement and overcoming impasses by using mediation and neutral experts to provide a third opinion.

5. The attorneys will guide the couple through the process of cooperative conflict by utilizing disagreement as a way to achieve creative solutions to problems.

6. The two attorneys, the couple and any other experts deemed necessary will meet several times to resolve all of the issues in the case.

7. The only hearing that is held in a collaborative divorce is the hearing that issues the final judgment in the case.

Even though divorces have always been accomplished by using an adversarial, position-based process, this doesn’t make it the best or only way of achieving the end result.

Man, society and the law have evolved to the point where more can be taken into account than just houses, assets, child custody and child support. People matter, too.

With an interest-based resolution such as collaborative divorce, the emotional wellbeing of the parties and their children are cultivated and preserved within a much more civilized process.

Stability is fostered and conflict is used as a creative tool. Both parties gain more control over the outcome and work together to make life easier for everyone.


Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.

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