Collaborative divorce was created in Minnesota by an attorney named Stuart Webb. According to The New York Times, Webb was worn out by the contentious nature of divorce court proceedings, and decided he wanted to help his clients settle on more amicable terms.
With a collaborative divorce, the soon-to-be-ex spouses and their attorneys sign a contract stating they will work together to reach a peaceful resolution. The contract also stipulates if the case ends up in court, the attorneys must withdraw from the case. By having all parties sign this contract, it holds everyone accountable for reaching an amicable resolution.
Benefits of a collaborative divorce
Since a collaborative divorce is designed to keep you out of court, it typically costs less. It also usually moves faster and is more informal. There are other reasons a collaborative divorce might be right for you. Below are some issues a collaborative divorce can address.
- Prevents communication problems
- Avoids a combative situation
- Settles issues of child custody and visitation
- Handles spousal maintenance details
- Manages dividing up marital property
Before you participate in negotiations
It should be noted that collaborative divorce is different than mediation. Mediation involves a neutral third party mediating your divorce proceedings. With a collaborative divorce, your attorney is still present to negotiate on behalf of your best interests.
Before negotiations begin, you should discuss exactly what you want out of the divorce with your attorney. You will likely have to make some compromises, so let your attorney know how much you are willing to compromise. Try to be realistic if you are discussing issues like spousal maintenance or child support. You may want to give your attorney a top and a bottom number for these.
These negotiations will likely occur over several sessions. You may also enlist the assistance of a financial planner or a child custody specialist. After you have reached an agreement, file your divorce papers with the court. Since it is a collaborative divorce, filing these papers should be a straightforward and simple process.