About Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative Divorce, a different 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 there is a neutral 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

Throughout the process each party is represented by their own attorney. No court appearances are required, and all necessary paperwork can be completed by the couple’s 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.

Parents with Children

The collaborative process works if both you and your spouse:

  • want to treat each other with respect and honesty throughout your divorce.
  • want to make a shared plan to meet your childrens’ best interests.
  • are willing to participate actively to create a system for future decision-making.
  • are willing to negotiate an enduring agreement.
  • are committed to reorganizing your family in a peaceful manner so that you can celebrate your childrens’ accomplishments in the future.

Couples with Assets

In the collaborative approach 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. When needed, the team selects and the parties employ neutral professionals to determine the value of any relevant assets, including real estate, tax consequences of liquidating or transferring assets and/or business interests. By working jointly to obtain objective information, the process is efficient and cost effective, and provides the parties with the necessary information to make sound decisions.

Couples Who Want to Avoid Court

The collaborative process is private; confidentiality is maintained with regard to all family information. Parties remain in total control of the outcome — any resolution must be agreeable to both parties. Parties are encouraged to treat each other respectfully promoting more positive post-divorce relations and peaceful co-parenting. Because there are no court appearances and little paperwork, the total cost of the collaborative process is generally far less than the cost of going to court to litigate the divorce. The actual cost depends on how long it takes to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties.

LGBT Couples

The collaborative process is private; confidentiality is maintained by all the professionals. Parties remain in control of the outcome; any resolution must be agreeable to both parties. New York, along with many other states, recognizes same-sex marriage and divorce. Many same sex couples have lived together for years prior to marriage, presenting unique issues in the divorce process. Collaborative professionals are sensitive to these issues, and support the peaceful resolution of all concerns presented by the parties.

Where Do I Start?

You can consult with a collaborative lawyer before you talk to your spouse, or you can share this information with your spouse. If you consult with a lawyer first, they will assist you in figuring out how to proceed. If both of you want to try Collaborative Divorce, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Each of you selects an attorney from the list of Collaborative Divorce lawyers or you jointly select a divorce coach from the list of mental health professionals. An informational meeting can help you decide whether the Collaborative Divorce process is for you.
  2. With your attorneys, a coach will be selected. You and your spouse will meet with the coach prior to any joint meetings with the lawyers.
  3. Both spouses, the coach and your attorneys attend the first collaborative meeting to sign the Participation Agreement that governs the process. If temporary measures are required to maintain stability during the negotiation .process, temporary arrangements will be established.
  4. Both spouses, the coach and your attorneys attend subsequent collaborative negotiations according to an established roadmap until you reach agreement. The Divorce Coach helps each spouse prepare for effective participation in the negotiations.

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Hudson Valley Collaborative Divorce Association