Guiding readers through the steps of the collaborative process so that they may make better, more informed decisions, THE COLLABORATIVE WAY TO DIVORCE isn’t about “going easy” on your spouse. It’s about ending up with more money, less stress, and happier kids without going to court.

 

Differences Between Traditional Divorce and Collaborative Divorce


 

The 8 Stages of Divorce

Traditional Divorce

Collaborative Divorce

1. Finding and hiring an attorney

Clients conduct separate searches, each aiming to hire an aggressive litigator who is “good in court.”

Clients coordinate their search for attorneys; both agree to hire Collaborative Attorneys.

2. Starting the divorce process

Husband or wife prepares (with the help of an attorney) a Summons and Petition. The Summons and Petition are filed with the court and a judge is assigned to case. The spouse then files an Answer and Counter-Petition.

Both clients and their attorneys meet for a four-way conference to discuss how everyone wants the case to proceed. At conference, all parties sign a Participation Agreement, which commits all involved to resolving all issues out of court. If the case cannot be resolved out of court, the attorneys are required to withdraw from the case.

3. Addressing temporary issues
(e.g., who will reside in the house, how much time children will spend at each home, etc., while divorce proceedings are taking place)

Clients who cannot resolve temporary issues on their own or seek relief through a temporary hearing. At the hearing, each client and his/her attorney files a motion and affidavits, then opposing client/attorney argues against spouse’s requests. Finally, all parties go to court, where judge issues temporary order for issues.

Temporary issues handled at one of the initial four-way meetings through an interest based method of conflict resolution that helps the parties focus on common goals.

4. Gathering and exchanging information
(e.g., information about the value of assets, each client’s basic income, monthly expenses for family, etc.)

Attorneys collect and exchange information through formal discovery, which includes interrogatories, requests for documents, and depositions.

Each party is required to voluntarily disclose all relevant facts through an informal (and less expensive) exchange of information.

5. Hiring Experts
(To obtain information outside the expertise of their attorneys — the value of their home, business, pension, etc.)

Each side may hire its own experts.

Both sides use same, neutral experts, which they have agreed upon together.

6. Negotiating a settlement

Handled by the attorneys and presented as arguments in favor of each of their client’s positions. (Clients not directly involved in settlement discussions.)

Worked out by attorneys and clients at four-way meetings, through interest based on negotiation that focuses on common goals.

7. Getting a “final” divorce decree

If case doesn’t settle, goes to trial, where clients testify/provide more evidence. At end of the trial, attorneys submit written arguments/proposals. Weeks or months after trial, judge issues a decision on all issues.

Final divorce documents the result of an agreement devised and signed by both parties.

8. Resolving issues that arise after the divorce

Clients must go to court to solve problems.

Clients resolve issues on own, by applying same principals that led to the agreement in the first place.

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