Collaborative divorce, a subset of alternative dispute resolution, is a legal process that has grown massively in popularity since its invention in the late 80s. The foundation of a collaborative divorce is a participation agreement, which both parties must consent to before the process can begin. In this agreement, spouses agree to resolve the issues relating to their divorce outside of a courtroom. Furthermore, the attorneys involved agree that should the collaborative process fail, neither of them will pursue litigation on behalf of their client. Additionally, you and your attorney may decide to bring in accountants, psychologists, and other neutral experts when appropriate or necessary.
Since the family court system typically is working under a heavy case load, litigation tends to be a slow process. It also costs more in attorneys fees for both parties. Avoiding a courtroom saves time and money. More importantly, the collaborative process gives the parties more control over the outcome of the divorce than the uncertainty of a courtroom.
The collaborative process is also typically a less stressful option than traditional divorce. Since it takes up less time and money, and affords greater control to the parties, the outcome tends to be better in line with their expectations.
The collaborative process isn’t the right option for every case, but it’s certainly something you should consider if you plan to get divorced. PJ Hartman is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the New Mexico Collaborative Practice Group as well as a co-founder of the Southwest Collaborative Divorce Law Group. She has a wealth of experience in collaborative divorce, and can help you decide if it’s the right option for you.