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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Collaborative Divorce

Term Definition Collaborative Divorce - a less costly, litigation-free way of settling disputes by which two parties agree in writing not to use court action.
Application in Divorce In collaborative law, lawyers act as negotiators, not litigators. Collaborative law is not adversarial. If an agreement cannot be reached, new counsel is retained to litigate. See Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

With Collaborative Law, the ultimate goal is to reach a settlement over the following issues, but not limited to, support, alimony, custody, property and debts, in your divorce matter without going to Court. Each spouse is represented by his or her own Collaborative attorney. The attorneys and spouses agree, in a written contract, to share all financial and other pertinent information relevant to the divorce without claiming confidentiality. This vital element of the process is what makes the collaborative divorce settlement process so unique. Since each spouse is willing to cooperate and share this information the time in which the attorneys must do extensive research and actually investigate the financial situation of the marital estate is drastically diminished, which decreases the legal costs and the actual time line of the divorce procedure.

Each spouse also agrees, in writing, with his or her own attorney that if the matter cannot be settled, the attorney will withdraw from representation and the spouse will have to hire a new lawyer to litigate the case. If the divorce does turn for the worse, there is a conflict in interest. A Collaborative lawyer typically does not participate in litigious cases. (The requirement of getting a new lawyer also does a great job of keeping both spouses on target about a collaborative settlement.)

The spouses and attorneys meet as many times as necessary to completely resolve all the matters at hand. The more complex the case, the more times the spouses and attorneys will have to meet.

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