Family Law Blog

What is a Collaborative Divorce?

What is a Collaborative Divorce?

A common misconception about divorce is that it always involves acrimony. Fortunately, this is not the case. If both parties are agreeable, then they can resolve their family law issues through a Collaborative Divorce.  

This week’s blog is the first of a two-blog series in which we take a deep dive into Collaborative Divorces. We’ll begin by looking at the basics of the subject and why more and more couples are using it to maintain good relations during their divorce.

What is a Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is an efficient and cost-effective way to dissolve a marriage without the need for litigation. The process begins with each party agreeing to participate in negotiation and finding a lawyer who practices Collaborative Law. Once each party has retained lawyers, both the parties and the lawyers sign a “Collaborative Participation Agreement.” This agreement sets out the rules for negotiating a peaceful and equitable outcome to the many issues that need resolving during a divorce. Parties and their lawyers commit to increased transparency and iterate their desire to a reach a settlement that works for the needs and interests of everyone involved.

In the Collaborative Participation Agreement, both parties can also include provisions specific to their needs or goals.  These commonly include:

  • An agreement to resolve differences in a non-adversarial manner.
  • A commitment to maintain constructive communication throughout the process.
  • Using a collaborative divorce lawyer to assist in reaching a settlement.
  • When necessary, using neutral experts such as financial advisers, child specialists or divorce coaches to facilitate the process.

What are the Advantages of a Collaborative Divorce?

A collaborative approach to divorce holds many advantages to separating couples, if they enter into the process with an open mind. It is crucial that both parties avoid adopting a mindset of seeking “wins” – the process is not about scoring points or getting back at a former partner. It is about ending a marriage in a respective and positive manner befitting of the time the couple spent together.   

Some advantages of a Collaborative Divorce are:

  • It is less costly compared to litigation in court.
  • Collaborative Lawyers are incentivized to help find a resolution as they are prohibited from representing any of the parties in further divorce proceedings.
  • Collaborative Divorces can involve several professionals who adopt a team approach to solving issues.
  • It has an increased emphasis on the needs of children.
  • Both parties actively participate.
  • The entire process is confidential between the involved parties.
  • It is less adversarial and leads to a greater chance of preserving friendly relations into the future.

What are the Disadvantages of a Collaborative Divorce?

Based on the advantages above, you may find yourself wondering why everyone does not use a Collaborative Divorce when going through a separation. While the process is effective at delivering amicable solutions, it does have some drawbacks.

  • Collaborative Divorces are not suited for couples with unequal power dynamics. Unless both parties can negotiate in good faith as equals, the process does not have a high degree of success. In practice, divorces where family violence is a factor are wholly unsuited to a collaborative approach.
  • If a Collaborative Divorce proves unsuccessful, both parties are required to start the process again with entirely new legal representation. Collaborative Lawyers are barred from taking any further part in the proceedings. Making some progress and then being forced back to square one, can prove an extremely frustrating prospect for both parties
  • Earlier we mentioned how a Collaborative Divorce allows external experts to join the negotiations and provide an impartial viewpoint. These experts will have associated fees which can increase the costs surrounding a Collaborative Divorce to a high level.

Consult with a Family Lawyer at Westside Family Law

At Westside Family Law, our Collaborative Divorce Lawyers are second-to-none at helping families find a resolution that works best for all involved. If you’re interested in hearing how we can help, contact us and let’s chat.