By: Cristin M. Lowe

Most people handle their divorce in one of two ways, through litigation or by mediation.  While there are benefits to both litigation and mediation, many people want a third option.  Enter Collaborative Practice, a newer approach to divorce law and a close relative to mediation.  So what is it, exactly?

  1. Collaborative divorce is a process.  Unlike a traditional divorce, the process is a mutually respectful, open-minded process that focuses on joint problem solving.

  2. Collaborative divorce avoids court.  The goal (and key difference between a traditional divorce and a collaborative one) with collaborative divorce is to reach an agreement without going to Court by developing an effective relationship with your ex-spouse that enables you to make joint decisions.

  3. Collaborative divorce is future focused.  Although divorce ends a marriage, it also is the start of a new life for both parties.  By teaching parties how to interact with each other respectfully and cooperatively, collaborative divorce helps parents and children alike to move forward, rather than staying in the past.  It also allows both parties to have a healthy new start without anger, resentment, or bitterness.

  4. Collaborative divorce is a team effort.  Rather than wading through the divorce process alone or with just one attorney, collaborative divorce offers people an expanded team of professionals.  The result is that parties have more access to information, more guidance from experts, more transparency throughout the proceedings, and more mutually beneficial solutions.

  5. Collaborative divorce is a win-win solution.  With litigation, parties are pitted against each other, and there are only three solutions: one spouse wins, the other spouse wins, or both sides lose because the judge entered orders that neither party likes or wants.  By pledging mutual respect and openness, the parties learn how to work with each other instead of against each other.  This not only creates a divorce decree that benefits both parties, but it also creates a divorce decree that stands the test of time.  Equally important, the parties learn how to resolve their problems in the future without needing to litigate.