After both spouses agree to a collaborative divorce, each party chooses a collaborative divorce lawyer who meets with him or her. At this initial meeting, the client reviews his or her concerns and goals. The lawyer reviews the options and ensures that there are no problems such as abuse, safety issues or mental health concerns. The client and lawyer sign the collaborative divorce retainer and provide a copy of a draft Participation Agreement.
In advance of the first settlement meeting, the lawyers share information, particularly information dealing with the issues that are at the forefront and affect the dynamics between the parties and the general interests of each party.
Collaborative divorce has six parameters:
- Disclosure, which means no information is hidden.
- Respect, which means both spouses act like mature adults.
- Insulating children, which means keeping the kids out of it.
- Sharing experts, which means both parties agree to share the costs.
- Win-win solutions, which means both sides benefit, and there are no hard feelings.
- No litigation, which means settling out of court. Going to court defeats the purpose of collaboration; litigation, means the attorneys involved with must withdraw.