Collaborative divorce is a no-court divorce option. At the beginning of this process, the parties and their attorneys sign a participation agreement which is the defining characteristic of the collaborative divorce process. The participation agreement requires parties and their attorneys cooperate throughout the process, to openly and honestly disclose all relevant information, and refrain from threatening litigation.
The agreement also requires that in the event of nonsettlement, the attorneys will withdraw as legal counsel and the parties will have to start over with new attorneys if they proceed to litigation in the court system. Eliminating the threat of litigation and faced with the financial burden of having to start over with new counsel if settlement isn’t reached, encourages parties to be transparent and work toward settlement as a team.
Through four-way settlement meetings, the attorneys and the parties work to identify goals, interests, needs and concerns. Once these are established, the team works to generate specifically tailored solutions that are mutually satisfactory and intended to meet the current and future needs of the parties. If an agreement is reached, the attorneys draft the necessary paperwork to finalize the divorce with the court. No court appearance is required of the parties or their attorneys.
In addition to attorneys, the collaborative process can and often does involve other divorce professionals such as financial neutrals, child specialists and divorce coaches. The facts of the case will often determine whether use of additional divorce professionals will be of benefit.