Collaborative divorce is a recent application of alternative dispute resolution. When it works, alternative dispute resolution not only saves both spouses a great deal of money, but also spares them a great deal of emotional wear and tear.
Collaborative divorce is a non-adversarial action whereby the two spouses and their lawyers work as a team “employing cooperative techniques rather than adversarial strategies and litigation.” Each spouse and his or her attorney enter into what is called a “participation agreement,” whereby each party agrees that neither will enter into litigation during the duration of the collaborative negotiations. In the event that the parties fail to reach an accord, the lawyers withdraw.
Spouses argue (and may even fight), but in a collaborative divorce, the spouses decide issues “based on compromise and fair play,” and they have more control over the outcome of the negotiations. Instead of litigation, collaborative divorce offers the spouses a chance to negotiate without a court battle.
Collaborative divorce costs less since many costs associated with litigation are avoided. For example, since the spouses cooperate with each other, expensive discovery costs are avoided.
Ideally, in a successful collaborative divorce, the spouse and their lawyers produce a finished marital separation agreement that spells out the terms and conditions of the property distribution, alimony, and child support and visitation.
The spouses achieve a settlement before anyone files papers in divorce court, and the divorce then moves through the court as an uncontested action.