What is a Collaborative Divorce?


A collaborative divorce is a type of divorce in which both spouses agree to work together with the help of collaborative professionals such as lawyers, financial experts, and mental health professionals, to resolve their divorce-related issues without going to court. Many couples look to the collaborative divorce method instead of turning the end of their marriage into a struggle. If you and your spouse are willing to work together, the collaborative divorce process might be right for you.

In a collaborative divorce, each spouse has their own attorney, and the attorneys are specially trained in collaborative law. The spouses and their attorneys agree to resolve all issues related to their divorce through a series of negotiation sessions. A collaborative divorce will often involve the use of other professionals such as financial experts, child specialists, or mental health professionals who help the spouses identify and resolve their concerns and interests. The goal of a collaborative divorce is to reach a mutually beneficial agreement that satisfies both spouses and their children, while avoiding the adversarial process of going through the courts. If the spouses are unable to reach a mutually acceptable agreement, and one or both parties decide to go to court, the process ends, and the attorneys representing the parties in the collaborative process cannot represent them in the court proceedings. The process for collaborative divorce typically involves the following steps:

  1. Hiring Collaborative Professionals: The first step in a collaborative divorce is for each spouse to hire their own attorney. The spouses may also decide to hire other professionals depending on their specific needs.
  2. Initial Meeting: The spouses, their attorneys, and any other professionals involved will meet for an initial meeting to discuss the process and establish ground rules. The parties will sign a participation agreement, which outlines the terms of the process and the commitments of all parties involved.
  3. Information Gathering: Both parties will provide full disclosure of all their assets, liabilities, and other relevant financial information.
  4. Negotiation: The parties and their attorneys will work together in a series of meetings to identify issues and interests and come up with creative solutions that work for both parties. The goal is to reach a mutually acceptable agreement that meets the needs of both parties and any children involved.
  5. Finalizing the Agreement: Once an agreement is reached, the parties will sign a final agreement that outlines the terms of their divorce. This agreement is then submitted to the court for approval, and once approved, becomes a legally binding document.
Going through a divorce oftentimes feels like your lives are spinning out of control, but the collaborative method gives you a degree of control over the divorce process and the final outcome. Collaborative divorce can be better than traditional divorce for several reasons that include:

  • Control: This type of divorce allows the parties to have more control over the outcome of their divorce. Rather than leaving the final decision to a judge, the spouses work together to come up with a mutually acceptable agreement that meets the needs of both parties and their children.
  • Less stressful: Collaborative divorce is often less stressful and emotionally taxing than traditional divorce. Since the spouses are working together, there is less hostility and animosity.
  • Cost-effective: Collaborative divorce can be more cost-effective than traditional divorce, as it typically involves fewer court hearings and legal fees.
  • Better for children: Collaborative divorce is often better for children, as it minimizes conflict and allows the parents to focus on the children’s best interests. Children may also benefit from the involvement of child specialists in the process.
  • Confidentiality: Collaborative divorce is a private process and typically keeps sensitive information from becoming public knowledge. In traditional divorce, court hearings and documents are often open to the public, which can be embarrassing or damaging for some parties.
I have practiced law for over 40 years and seen the good that comes from a collaborative divorce. If you are in the Kansas City area and believe the collaborative process would be beneficial to 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 regarding your divorce.