Collaborative Divorce


In collaborative divorce, the parties each hire an attorney and explicitly tell their lawyers that they want to negotiate an agreement, not go to court. Collaborative Divorce is, in a sense, mediation where each party has their own attorney present for the mediation. Each party has their own lawyer, and a neutral divorce coach serves as case coordinator and facilitator. There is also a neutral financial advisor, and a neutral child specialist available, as necessary.

The lawyers are responsible for assisting the couple in reaching agreement regarding all outstanding issues necessary to separate and divorce, taking the parties and their children’s needs into consideration. Each lawyer gives their own client legal advice, but there is a commitment to open communications, and the process will be terminated if either party refuses to provide accurate and complete information. In contrast with the litigation process, each party promises to provide all necessary information whether requested or not, to correct any misunderstandings that may arise, and to treat each other with respect and courtesy throughout the process.

The divorce coach attends most meetings as a case coordinator, helps people get centered if they are emotionally upset at the beginning of the separation, a common situation, and provides individual emotional support, works to insure that the client is able to identify and prioritize their interests, and brings their best thinking to the negotiating table. The coach also advises the lawyers on how to best help a particular couple work productively together, and work with the couple on parenting and communication issues.

The financial advisor serves as a neutral, gathering all the family’s financial information and organizing it for the negotiation process. The financial advisor also puts together projections of proposed settlements for the years following the separation, showing what various possible plans would mean for both parties. The financial advisor does not make decisions for the parties, but does assist in making sure that both parties understand all the necessary financial circumstances relevant to their decision making. For more information about collaborative divorce, see www.collabdivorce-ny.com