More and more couples, facing divorce or legal separation, are already turning away from contentious court proceedings and long-lived litigation to legal mediation. Yet, there is a third option, separate from litigation and mediation: the collaborative divorce process. This method is only a few decades old, but it already boasts a worldwide network of legal practitioners.
How does a Collaborative Divorce work?
Mediation involves a couple meeting with a trained mediator to work out the terms of their divorce. On the other hand, the “collaborative” in the collaborative divorce process refers to the opportunity and an incentive for the clients and their lawyers to use their best efforts to work together and reach a divorce agreement in the best interest of both their clients. In the collaborative process, the attorneys commit themselves to resolving all issues of the divorce without resorting, or threatening to resort to costly court proceedings. If this is not possible, then by the terms of the collaborative agreement, the parties are free to seek litigation counsel. That mere fact incentivizes the attorneys to facilitate an agreement, rather than to foster conflict between the parties. The collaborative process can also be helpful in minimizing negative effects on the parties’ children, by insulting them from their parents’ conflict.
Collaborative divorce involves the two partners’ attorneys and uses informal methods such as voluntary production of financial documents, four-way conferences, negotiation, and where needed, outside professionals such as financial professionals and collaborative coaches. For financial professionals, the criteria include an appropriate credential such as Certified Public Accountant, Certified Financial Planner, Certified Divorce Financial Planner, plus experience working in the divorce field. For Collaborative Coaches, the criteria include licensure such as Ph.D, Psy.D, MD, MSW or LMFT, plus specific training relating to communication, parenting and child development issues.
Collaborative family law has a scope beyond that of divorce cases. It can also help cohabitating couples separate, or with post-divorce financial issues that arise such as college tuition.
Is Collaborative Divorce effective?
Though it is not widely known in public consciousness, collaborative family law practice is not fringe, nor is it risky. Thousands of families worldwide have benefited from the collaborative divorce process in a way they would not have if they had undergone mediation or litigation.
The collaborative divorce process originated in the Midwest United States in the early 1990s. Over the following three decades, the collaborative approach to family law matters has spread rapidly throughout the English-speaking world—the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand—and beyond the Anglophone sphere. The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) has some two-and-a-half thousand members worldwide, with some twenty thousand professionals worldwide receiving training from the organization. [Our highly qualified attorneys are among these] Closer to home, the American Bar Association has a committee on collaborative law.
The American Congress formalized the collaborative law process just in 2009 with the Uniform Collaborative Law Act and its amendments, providing individual states with a template to base their own collaborative law regulations on. Many localities already had and continue to formulate their own best practices in regard to collaborative family law.
Learn if the Collaborative Divorce process will work for you
Collaborative family law is an accepted process in Connecticut and our attorneys are some of the finest practitioners in the state. Call our office today to discuss if a collaborative divorce is right for your family situation.