WHAT IS A COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE?

The collaborative process, or specifically, a Collaborative Divorce, is a voluntary dispute resolution process during which parties attempt to settle their divorce without any litigation.

Each party must be represented by a lawyer whose representation terminates upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding. When a party terminates the collaborative process and initiates litigation, he or she must then hire a new attorney to pursue the contested litigation.

The parties may engage neutral mental health and financial professionals whose role is to gather information and facilitate settlement. The neutral mental health and financial professionals’ engagements usually terminate upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding. The parties may also jointly engage other experts as needed, such as realtors, appraisers, life coaches and vocational experts.

A critical aspect of a Collaborative Divorce is full transparency. The parties must agree to voluntarily disclose all information that is relevant and material to the matters that must be resolved.

At the outset of a Collaborative Divorce, the parties and their attorneys sign a collaborative participation agreement describing the nature and scope of the process and the issues to be resolved. The parties and their attorneys agree not to resort to litigation, to voluntarily disclose all information necessary and relevant to resolving the divorce, and to treat everyone with respect and candor.

The benefits of choosing a Collaborative Divorce are:

* The parties maintain open communication and information sharing.

* The parties control the outcome of their divorce by negotiating a mutually acceptable resolution.

* The parties, and not a judge (i.e., a stranger), decide what is best for their family as they divorce.

* The Collaborative divorce process is often shorter and more cost-effective than litigating a divorce to trial.

* There is often significantly less animosity and more satisfaction amongst the parties after resolving a divorce collaboratively.

* The parties can craft unique options and solutions that may not be available to them in court.

* The parties are able to keep much of their personal financial and family information confidential and out of a public court file.

Want to Learn More? Here are a few helpful resources:

The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals: www.collaborativepractice.com

Tampa Bay Collaborative Divorce Group: www.tampabaycollaborative.com

Stu Webb and Ron Ousky, THE COLLABORATIVE, THE REVOLUTIONARY METHOD THAT RESULTS IN LESS STRESS, LOWER COSTS, AND HAPPIER KIDS—WITHOUT GOING TO COURT. (Hudson Street Press. 2006)

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