What is collaborative practice? Is it the same thing as collaborative law or collaborative divorce?The collaborative process is a major shift in the approach to divorce. Collaborative practice is based on the concept that a couple can work together from the very beginning of the case in a non-adversarial way to end their marriage. The goals of collaborative divorce include emphasizing the needs of children, allowing the spouses more control over the process, and maintaining a respectful relationship for the future. The process is designed to consider the interests of each party and their children, to avoid the emotional stress and anxiety associated with litigation, and to ensure that issues such as custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, and division of property are resolved fairly.Collaborative law is a new way to resolve disputes by removing the disputed matter from the litigious courtroom setting and treating the process as a way to “troubleshoot and problem solve” rather than to fight and win. As part of the collaborative law method, both parties retain separate attorneys whose job is to help them settle the dispute. No one may go to court. If that should occur, the collaborative law process terminates and both attorneys are disqualified from any further involvement in the case.Each party in the collaborative law process signs a contractual agreement that includes the following terms:
- Disclosure of Documents. Each party agrees to honestly and openly disclose all documents and information relating to the issues. Neither spouse may take advantage of a miscalculation or an inadvertent mistake. Instead, such errors are identified and corrected.
- Respect. Each party agrees to act respectfully and avoid disparaging or vilifying any of the participants.
- Insulating Children. As part of the process, all participants agree to insulate the children from the proceeding and to act in such a way as to minimize the impact of the divorce on them.
- Sharing Experts. The parties agree to implement outside experts where necessary in a cooperative fashion and share the costs related to those experts. (e.g. real estate appraisers, business appraisers, parenting consultants, vocational evaluators, or accountants)
- Win-Win Solutions. The primary goal of the process is to work toward an amicable solution and to create a “win-win” situation for all.
- No Court. Neither party may seek or threaten court action to resolve disputes. If the parties decide to go to court, the attorneys must withdraw and the process begins anew in the court system.