Collaborative Divorce: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Finding and Hiring an Attorney

In the Collaborative process, you and your spouse coordinate your search for attorneys.  More specifically, you both agree to hire attorneys who are trained in settling cases through Collaborative strategies.  For more information on finding a Collaborative attorney, click here.

Step 2: Starting the Divorce Process

The first official step in the Collaborative process is almost always a four-way conference where you, your spouse, and both attorneys get together to discuss how you want the case to proceed.  During this initial conference, you, your spouse, and both attorneys will sign a Participation Agreement, which lays out the ground rules for the process. To see a sample Participation Agreement, click here

Step 3: Taking Care of Immediate Problems

In the Collaborative process, most temporary issues are handled at one of the initial four-way meetings.  Resolving your short-term concerns out of court will save you and your spouse a lot of time and money.

Step 4: Gathering and Exchanging Information

In the Collaborative process, the Participation Agreement makes clear that you and your spouse must voluntarily disclose all relevant facts.  Parties can gather the information on their own or with the assistance of their attorneys.

Step 5: Using Experts

In the Collaborative process, only neutral experts are used.  Examples of neutral experts include financial experts, child specialists, and coaches.

Step 6: Negotiating a Settlement

Collaborative attorneys receive specialized training in interest-based conflict resolution.  That means that they expertise is in helping you and your spouse identify big-picture goals and finding common ground so you can get better results.

Step 7: Getting a Final Divorce Decree through Stipulation

In the Collaborative process, trials and hearings are eliminated and the final document is the result of an agreement signed by both you and your spouse.

All information taken from “The Collaborative Way to Divorce: The Revolutionary Method That Results in Less Stress, Lower Costs, and Happier Kids—Without Going to Court” by Stuart Webb and Ron Ousky