How Does the Collaborative Divorce Process Work?
November 22, 2023
Collaborative divorce is a process that allows couples to resolve their divorce outside of court in a cooperative and non-adversarial manner. It involves a team approach, with spouses and their respective attorneys working together to find a mutually acceptable resolution. This divorce method gives couples the time and space to work together to solve all legal issues and create a lasting solution for their family’s future. Collaborative divorce has been used to help couples navigate numerous challenging problems. Even if your spouse and you have very different ideas, the collaborative divorce team can help you devise a plan that works for both of you.
Both parties must agree to the collaborative process voluntarily and commit to resolving their divorce without going to court. If the collaborative process fails, both parties must retain new attorneys if they choose to pursue litigation. The method emphasizes open communication, transparency, and a commitment to finding solutions that meet the needs of both spouses and their families. The couple, along with their collaborative attorneys, works together to negotiate and find solutions on issues such as child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, and the division of assets and debts, and if needed, the couple may involve other professionals, such as financial specialists, child specialists, or divorce coaches, to provide guidance and support in specific areas of the divorce process.
The collaborative divorce process encourages a more amicable and respectful approach to resolving differences, helping to reduce conflict and promote a healthier post-divorce relationship between the couple, especially if they need to continue co-parenting their children. The collaborative divorce process typically involves the following steps:
· Initiating the Process: Both spouses must agree to the collaborative process voluntarily and commit to resolving their divorce outside of court. Each spouse hires a collaborative attorney who is trained in the collaborative process.
· Initial Meetings: The first few meetings may involve the collaborative attorneys and the couple. These meetings set the tone for the collaborative process and establish the framework for moving forward. The attorneys explain the collaborative process, discuss the roles and responsibilities of each party, and identify the issues that need to be resolved.
· Joint Sessions: The couple, along with their collaborative attorneys, attend joint sessions to discuss and negotiate various aspects of the divorce, such as child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, and the division of assets and debts. The goal is to reach mutually acceptable agreements on these issues.
· Expert Involvement: If necessary, the couple may bring in other professionals, such as financial specialists, child specialists, or divorce coaches, to provide guidance and support in specific areas. These experts can help address complex financial matters, create parenting plans, and assist with emotional support.
· Negotiation and Settlement: The collaborative attorneys facilitate the negotiation process, helping the couple work through their differences and find solutions that meet the needs and interests of both parties. The focus is on reaching a comprehensive settlement agreement that addresses all relevant issues.
· Drafting the Agreement: Once the couple reaches an agreement on all the issues, the collaborative attorneys draft a comprehensive settlement agreement. This agreement outlines the terms and conditions of the divorce, including child custody arrangements, child support, spousal support, and the division of assets and debts. Each party must review the agreement thoroughly and consult their attorneys before signing.
· Court Approval: After the agreement is signed, the attorneys submit the settlement agreement to the court for approval. If the court approves the agreement, it becomes legally binding.
The involvement of trained collaborative attorneys and other professionals helps ensure that both parties’ legal and emotional needs are met. Another advantage of the collaborative divorce method is that couples do not go through this process alone. Divorce can feel isolating at times, but through the collaborative approach, couples can work with a team of professionals to ensure the best possible outcome.
I helped establish the benefits of the collaborative divorce process in Missouri in 2001. Since then, I have conducted numerous advanced training courses for other attorneys who wanted to learn more about the collaborative process and how their family law clients could be helped. I know the trials that people face when divorce is afoot, and I see the good that collaborative divorce can do for people. There are many advantages to the collaborative divorce process, and it is worth looking into. If you are in the Kansas City area and believe collaborative divorce sounds like a good option for you and your family, contact me, Hugh O’Donnell, today to schedule a consultation, or feel free to call me at (816) 533-5152 with any questions you have regarding your divorce.