HOW COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE WORKS
Each of the spouses has an attorney. The process is guided and controlled by the attorneys, who must be committed to work together. This immediately excludes the tough, victory-driven, traditional divorce lawyers who are trained to attack and compete, without consideration for the interests or sensitivities of the opposing party.
Both ‘sides’ (attorney and client in each case) sign an agreement to co-operate, maintain integrity and confidentiality. They also undertake voluntarily to disclose the information that will make it possible for them to jointly identify the issues before combining their resources to work towards positive outcomes. It emphasises fairness. It also provides that neither of the attorneys may ever represent either of the parties if the process fails and antagonistic court proceedings are entered into.
Meetings are held, information exchanged, decisions taken and eventually, an agreement reached. Other professionals are often included – a psychologist or a social worker may be included to advise on the best arrangements for the children. A financial adviser might be needed to advise how best to settle the money matters. The point is – if an expert opinion is needed, the parties arrange jointly to get one, rather than to seek opposing reports or opinions from two or more experts. Collaboration saves time and money. It also saves these experts – and everybody else involved – from having to wait for years for a trial. In place of airing the dirty washing, all those involved direct their efforts towards common goals – positive outcomes, as soon as reasonably possible, for all. Dignity and confidentiality are maintained throughout the process.
Once an agreement is reached (as happens in most cases of collaborative divorce), the necessary court proceedings are a brief, non-antagonistic formality.