About Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce, a new approach to divorce, offers couples an opportunity to separate with a minimum of bitterness and animosity. Instead of going in front of a Judge, the two parties and their attorneys sit down together to work out the details of the dissolution of their marriage, with the help of mental health professionals and a financial advisor. Each party has a lawyer and a divorce coach to assist them. The team works collaboratively with the couple so that divorcing spouses can reach agreement about the following:

  • division of property
  • child & spousal support
  • co-parenting plan
  • children's living arrangements
  • marital status

Both parties are represented by an attorney throughout the process. No court appearances are required, and all necessary paperwork can be completed by the attorneys. The primary objectives are to insure that agreements are mutually satisfying to the parties, likely to endure and promote the well-being of the children.

Because there are no court appearances, and little paperwork, the total cost of hiring the collaborative divorce team is lass than the cost of hiring two lawyers to litigate a divorce. The actual cost depends on how long it takes to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties.

The collaborative process could work if both you and your spouse:

  • want to treat each other with repect and honesty thoughout your divorce;
  • want to resolve disagreements with a settlement that meets your children's and your own reasonable needs;
  • are willing to participate actively to create a system for future decision making;
  • are willing to negotiate an enduring agreement; and
  • are committed to providing for your children's needs.

Resolving matters collaboratively, you may enjoy these benefits:

  • spend less money on attorney's fees and costs;
  • establish a constructive relationship for co-parenting;
  • avoid the emotional toll of a litigated divorce; and
  • reach an agreement tailored to your needs.

The Collaborative Divorce Team

A collaborative divorce allows the parties to draw upon the expertise of various professionals trained to help them arrive at solutions which promote their long term best interest.

  • Attorneys
    The attorneys are committed to the cooperative resolution of all issues. The attorneys facilitate negotiations while protecting their client's rights.
  • Divorce coaches
    Mental health professionals help each spouse develop skills and self-mastery so they may participate effectively in collaborative negotiations, develop sound strategies for co-parenting and learn to address future issues reasonably.
  • Financial specialist
    The parties employ one financial specialist to provide direction and assistance in gathering financial material, help them to design realistic budgets and propose various plans for distribution of assets and debts so that the parties may make informed choices.
  • Child specialist
    If necessary, the parties employ a child specialist to provide an objective assessment of their children's needs with recommendations for a parenting plan, and to help the children express their own concerns.

Membership in the collaborative divorce team is limited to experienced divorce professionals with specific training in collaborative resolution of disputes.

How To Get Started

The first step is to share information on collaborative divorce with your spouse. This can be accomplished by sharing this Web site or by contacting the Collaborative Divorce Team of the Hudson Valley and requesting an information packet, which contains most of the information found here. If both of you want to try collaborative divorce, here are the steps to follow as you begin the process:

  1. Each of you selects an attorney from the list of collaborative lawyers and a divorce coach from the list of mental health professionals. Call either and arrange an informational meeting which can help you decide whether the collaborative divorce process suits you.
  2. Both spouses and your attorneys attend the first collaborative meeting to sign the Participation Agreement that governs the process. If temporary immediate measures are required to maintain stability during the negotiation process, these will be included in the Participation Agreement.
  3. Each of you meets individually with your respective attorneys and respective divorce coaches to identify and discuss plans and particular issues relevant to your situation.
  4. Both spouses and your attorney attend subsequent collaborative negotiations until you reach agreement. Meetings with divorce coaches to improve communications are held as necessary.

© 2007 Hudson Valley Collaborative Divorce Association.
All Rights Reserved.

Hudson Valley Collaborative Divorce Association