Frequently Asked Questions

You will find answers to many of your questions about Non-Adversarial Divorce below. If you would like additional information, you can visit our Resources page or find a Professional.

What Is Collaborative Divorce and how does it work?

Collaborative Divorce provides families with an opportunity to settle their differences without resorting to litigation. It allows you and your spouse to play an active role and to control the process. With the help of the Collaborative team you work towards an overall settlement in a non-adversarial environment. Each party hires their own collaboratively trained attorney. In addition, you might each have a divorce coach to help you work through the emotional issues that can often stall the process or a single neutral coach who facilitates communication as you work through your differences and the collaborative process.  Where applicable, you have access to a child specialist who gives voice to your children’s needs and concerns and ensures that the interests of the children remain in focus during the process. The child specialist assists in developing a parenting plan that takes into consideration the specific needs of your children. There is a neutral financial advisor who collects financial information in order to evaluate the current needs of the family to provide an understanding of your financial future. All meetings with professionals are held in a private setting.

How does it compare with the costs of a traditional divorce?

The high cost of spending hours in court is eliminated. Each team member brings his/her expertise to the process to provide the most cost efficient means to resolving issues. You and your Collaborative Team control the time spent on the process and less time equals less money.

How will Collaborative Divorce benefit my children?

The Collaborative Divorce process helps parents focus on the needs of their children. The child specialist can help your children identify and communicate their needs, wants, and concerns. By avoiding the battles of a litigated divorce you are better able to co-parent during the divorce and after.

Why do we need so many professionals?

The needs and resources of each individual family will determine which and how many professionals are necessary. Divorce is not just a legal process. The Collaborative approach addresses the emotional and financial needs as well. The number of professionals involved in a collaborative divorce is similar to those involved in a typical traditional divorce. The advantage of Collaborative Divorce is that you choose the professionals you work with. These professionals are trained to work cooperatively which streamlines the process and minimizes duplication of efforts. As a result the Collaborative Divorce process is more cost effective.

How can I get my spouse to agree to the Collaborative process?

Your spouse may be resistant to any suggestions you make at this point. The key to someone deciding to choose the Collaborative process is information. The best way to get information is to meet with a trained Collaborative professional. Depending on what issues are most important to you, you can meet individually or together with an attorney, divorce coach, child specialist or financial planner. Any of these professionals can schedule a consultation to provide information about the process.

Will my lawyer still protect my interests?

Your Collaborative Divorce attorney will give you legal advice, ensure that your interests are fully considered and advise you about the benefits and drawbacks of all settlement proposals. In this way, the collaborative divorce attorney differs from a mediator, who cannot give either party legal advice, and cannot be an advocate for either side. However, unlike litigating attorneys, the collaborative divorce attorneys agree from the start that they will not act as “hired guns.” In this way the divorcing couple and their children avoid the battle scars of a hostile divorce.

Is Collaborative Divorce right for my family?

Simply put, as long as both spouses are committed to the well being of their children, full disclosure of information, and moving on to a better situation for the whole family, YES! While you began your marriage with good intentions, you now believe that a divorce is your family’s best option. Divorces can begin with good intentions for the best interests of your children and the future well being of your whole family. Often the traditional approaches do not provide the support to see those goals through. Collaborative Divorce focuses on a productive use of your time and money for a result that will help all family members move ahead with a sense of security and your parental relationships intact, or maybe even improved. It is a process rooted in communication, setting goals, listening and is controlled by you and your spouse. Choosing Collaborative Divorce provides the best opportunity for your children to grow up with the support and cooperation of both parents. The future milestones in your children’s lives such as graduations and weddings can be celebrated by all.

Is Collaborative Divorce right for you?

Collaborative Divorce provides you with emotional, financial and legal support every step of the way. Choosing a Collaborative Divorce means that you place more value on a win-win for your family than on blaming your spouse or proving your spouse wrong.

Can I use this process if I was never married or if I am already divorced?

Even if you have never married or are already divorced you will have to obtain court orders for conflicts involving child custody, visitation and child support. These issues can be resolved using the Collaborative Divorce process.

What happens if an agreement cannot be reached?

At times the Collaborative Process may become difficult. The Collaborative team is trained to help navigate the parties through these difficult times. However, you or your spouse may withdraw if you feel a settlement cannot be reached. In accordance with the participation agreement, you would both then have to hire new attorneys to litigate the case in court. The prospect of having to “start over” in this way is the motivation that keeps everyone committed and focused on reaching a settlement. Even in the event you end up in court, you may have resolved many issues in the Collaborative Process.

How does Collaborative Divorce differ from traditional litigation or mediation?

Collaborative Divorce differs from traditional litigation in that it is a voluntary, non-adversarial, and confidential process that allows you, the client, and your spouse to retain much of the control over the outcome of your divorce. Both you and your spouse will have an attorney by your side during the process to advise you and protect your interests. In Collaborative Divorce both attorneys are committed to helping you reach a settlement that you feel is right for your family. You will also have the expertise of financial, parenting and mental health professionals at the negotiations to help you make sound decisions during this difficult time of transition.

In traditional divorce your attorney will handle most of the negotiations while preparing for a trial in front of a judge who then decides the outcome. In all cases communications between you and your attorney are confidential, but in traditional divorce, hearings and trials are open to the public.

Even if your case settles prior to trial the emotional and financial costs spent on hearings and preparation for trial can be devastating. Collaborative Divorce allows you to think about settlement from the start. It allows all of your emotional and financial resources to be targeted toward reaching a settlement that works for your family, not one a judge decides. You can avoid doing battle with your spouse and causing harm to your children in the process.

Mediation is an alternative to litigation but unlike Collaborative Divorce you are not represented by an attorney or other professionals during the process. A mediator is a neutral party, not necessarily an attorney, who will help facilitate negotiations between you and your spouse but cannot advise either of you.

What is the difference between Collaborative Divorce and Mediation

In Collaborative Divorce you each have your own collaboratively trained counsel. In Mediation, a trained mediator works with both of you and assists you in reaching an agreement. A mediator will not provide you with independent legal advice. In either model, a team can be built to bring efficiency and focus where needed, such as using a Child Specialist in a parenting challenge, or a Financial Professional on a tax or financial planning question. You have choices and options, all individuated to your circumstances.

Does the Mediator have to be a lawyer?

No. If the primary issue is child-focused, parenting issues might best be mediated by a Child Specialist or Parenting Coach/Coordinator. If the primary issue is finance-focused, the issue might best be mediated by a Financial Professional. An attorney mediator will not provide independent legal advice to either of you as the mediator does not represent you in the traditional sense of lawyer/client relationships. However, the attorney mediator can and does provide legal information and can and does prepare the court forms and the agreement for court approval. In many situations, it is appropriate to co-mediate, so that all aspects of your divorce are fully addressed in an efficient process.