In a collaborative divorce, a husband and wife end their failed marriage with cooperative techniques rather than adversarial strategies and litigation. Collaborative divorce is a way to end a marriage, if not painlessly, then at least without blood on the floor.
In a collaborative divorce, the lawyers for both the husband and the wife assist the clients to resolve conflicts by cooperating rather than confronting. Everyone involved commits to a negotiated outcome, and everyone agrees from the onset that neither spouse will litigate during the negotiations.
In a collaborative divorce the lawyers manage the conflict, emotional issues and relationship issues creatively, rather than inflaming the parties. The parties and their lawyers engage in four-way meetings, where they explore issues using their own words and feelings.
The spouses and their lawyers enter into a Participation Agreement, which is signed by the lawyers and the spouses. It stipulates that if a settlement is not reached, the lawyers will withdraw, and the spouses are free to pursue litigation. The lawyers’ retainers are limited to settlement negotiations. The Participation Agreement sets out the parties’ commitments to collaborative divorce. It contains provisions such as:
- a statement of that the outstanding issues are to be settled in a non-adversarial manner; and
- a provision that the parties promote the relationships between the parents and children and to work to reduce any emotional damage to the children because of the divorce;
The agreement will also stipulate the terms and conditions for ending the negotiations.
During the negotiations, the parties maintain the status quo in regards to the children and no unilateral changes are made to assets, insurance coverage or other matters without consent.