I paid my attorney over $100,000 and still got a settlement that doesn't give me
enough money to live on. From a client in Brooklyn, NY
This is a story I have been told by many clients who have gone through the process
of traditional divorce litigation. Don't let this be your story!! Learn how the
Collaborative Divorce process can help you avoid the mistake of costly litigation
that uses up your assets and creates emotional turmoil.
A New and Better Way
Collaborative Divorce is a new and better way for couples to divorce. The heart
of the Collaborative process is that both spouses have the support, protection and
guidance of their own lawyers, mental health practitioners and financial professionals
without going to court. Your divorce team is committed to working together cooperatively
utilizing problem-solving strategies rather than conflict and litigation. The Collaborative
process can be particularly valuable when you need to work out difficult parenting
issues, you have a complex financial or tax situation, you and your spouse have
communication problems or you both want to avoid costly and emotionally damaging
How Does Collaborative Divorce Work?
The Collaborative Divorce Team Gives You Support and Advice
In Collaborative Divorce, both spouses retain their own attorneys who provide legal
advice and support. In addition, jointly selected experts such as child psychologists,
financial planners and divorce coaches join the team as needed. To insure that the
divorce team is committed to working out a fair settlement and will not benefit
financially if the process fails, they sign a contract stating that, if an agreement
is not reached, they will withdraw from the process and not participate in the future
The Collaborative Divorce Team is flexible and may include all or some of the following
- Family law attorneys facilitate settlement discussions, provide legal advice
and write settlement agreements. Each spouse has their own attorney who represents
their best interests while maintaining the overall goals of the Collaborative process.
- Financial planners are neutral and support both parties. They document and
organize financial data, look at the immediate and long-term effects of settlement
proposals and develop strategies to minimize taxes and maximize post-divorce cash
flow. Financial professionals provide ongoing support, practical financial guidance
and planning and budgeting advice throughout the divorce process which may include
educating a spouse who is less knowledgeable financially.
- Divorce coaches are licensed mental health professionals who work to improve
communication, reduce misunderstandings and resolve conflicts. The coach's work
is limited and does not take the place of individual therapy.
- Child specialists are the voice of the children. They express the children's
concerns regarding how the divorce will affect them and help develop a co-parenting
Why is Collaborative Divorce a Better Alternative to Traditional
Collaborative Divorce differs from traditional "adversarial divorce" in that the
divorcing couple and their attorneys practice cooperative "win-win" strategies rather
than engaging in conflict and litigation. Typically, divorce is confrontational,
costly and time-consuming and often leads to family tensions and hostility. Resolution
generally occurs more than a year after filing, following many hurtful events and
great expense. Ultimately, the traditional divorce process takes on a life of its
own, controlled by lawyers who measure success by who won and by how much. In the
Collaborative process, couples negotiate their own divorce agreement with the help
of their divorce team. At the same time they learn skills for effective communication,
on-going conflict resolution and co-parenting that will help after divorce.
When is Collaborative Divorce Better than Mediation?
In Mediation, a neutral third party meets with the couple to facilitate divorce
negotiations. Mediators are trained to resolve issues between divorcing spouses,
but some situations make successful mediation problematic. Issues that often derail
mediation include imbalances in power, knowledge or negotiating ability of the spouses;
poor communication; child custody issues or complicated financial or tax situations.
A Collaborative Divorce Team is able to bring together the right combination of
expertise to resolve many issues.
Benefits of Collaborative Divorce
Lower Cost/ Less Conflict and Stress
Collaborative divorce results in a negotiated settlement without costly court filings
and conflict that accompany traditional methods. Statistics show that the cost of
Collaborative Divorce is 50% of traditional divorce. A divorce process in which
both spouses are working together in a problem solving mode is bound to be less
stressful and hurtful than adversarial "win it all" litigation.
Settlement That Best Meets Everyone's Needs
In Collaborative Divorce, the divorcing couple is able to define their own settlement
with the assistance of their divorce team and avoid the arbitrary and uncertain
outcome of a court-ordered decision. Free from constraints of the court, divorcing
spouses can negotiate a customized settlement that best meets their needs as well
as those of the children.
Support, Protection and Guidance
The Collaborative process offers each party the support, protection and guidance
of his or her own matrimonial attorney without going to court. Additionally, each
party benefits from financial specialists helping to make decisions on money and
tax issues, divorce coaches building better communication issues and a child specialist
working with the children.
Financial Planning – Avoiding Costly Mistakes
Financial issues in divorce are complex and the decisions a couple makes as part
of the divorce process are probably the most important fiscal decisions that they
will make in their lifetime. On the Collaborative Divorce Team the financial professional
is a neutral who works with both spouses. He organizes and documents financial information
to gain understanding agreement of basic financial facts. If one spouse is less
financially savvy, a financial planner can coach that spouse to keep negotiations
on an equal footing. During negotiations, a financial planner can assess the budgetary
and tax impact of different scenarios, project needs 5 and 10 year in the future
and develop workable solutions.
Each party as well as the divorce professionals agrees to honest and open disclosure
of all documents and information so all the facts are on the table building trust
in the process and making it easier to find a solution. In Collaborative Divorce
neither spouse can take advantage of an inadvertent mistake made by the other.
As part of the process, participants agree to insulate children from the proceeding
and minimize the impact of the divorce on them. Not holding children hostages of
the divorce process makes it easier for them to accept the divorce and less likely
that they will face long-term ill effects.
In the Collaborative process parties jointly hire neutral outside experts who are
not associated with either party (e.g. real estate appraisers, business appraisers,
parenting consultants, vocational evaluators). This reduces cost and conflict associated
with dueling experts and allows each spouse to have confidence in the result.
Stress, Anxiety and Emotional Issues of Divorce
Divorce can be one of the most destructive and emotionally painful events a person
ever goes through. The Collaborative process reduces stress and anxiety so that
participants are able to focus on solving problems and moving on. Collaborative
Divorce reduces stress by recognizing and addressing emotional issues, working on
communication problems and allowing parties to have control over the process.
Collaborative Ground Rules
Collaborative Guidelines For Parents
Collaborative NY Times
Collaborative Participation Agmt
Collaborative Planning for a Good Outcome