How Does The Collaborative Process Work?
It starts by contacting a Collaborative Divorce Professional of your choosing (Attorney, Mental Health Professional or Financial Neutral). During your initial consultation, that professional will assist you with gaining a better understanding of how the Collaborative Divorce Process works and how it may work for your family. (For a list of our collaborative professionals near you please go to the Members Profiles tab above.)
Each collaborative professional has their own intake process. Some will want to meet with you alone at first and then make suggestions on how to engage your spouse/partner into the process. Others will only meet with the two of you together at first and limit the discussion to process options. The next goal is to assist you in establishing a collaborative team. The makeup of your team will likely depend upon the unique circumstances of your case.
All will be required to sign a Collaborative Process and Confidentiality Agreement that includes a provision that disqualifies all members of your Professional Team from participation in any court proceedings. The commitment is to working together in assisting you to reach an amicable and fair agreement. All team members are committed to a peaceful resolution and to work together as co-equals to help you reach an agreement that is in the best interests of your family.
The Attorneys will assist you and the Team in brainstorming solutions where more typical solutions are for whatever reason not in your best interests. Your Attorneys will also jointly prepare the legal documents necessary to commence and complete the divorce process.
Couples going through a divorce frequently experience a wide variety of emotions that may make it very difficult to communicate with each other in a constructive way. Collaboratively Trained Mental Health Professionals (Communication Coaches) can help each of you to deal with these emotions and to develop positive communication skills that are essential to reaching a fair and nonadversarial solution, and assist you in Co-Parenting skills during and after the collaborative process.
If there are children involved, you may want to retain the services of a Child Specialist (Mental Health Professional), who will focus on the needs and development of your minor children. They will meet with you, your children, and the members of the Collaborative Team to help you focus on the needs and interests of your children. Child Specialists will work with the Coaches and Parents to help you make informed decisions that are child-centered and in their best interests. The Child Specialist can also help you develop a better co-parenting relationship.
In the Collaborative Process, you and your spouse/partner hire one Financial Neutral (a CPA or Financial Planner) to assist you to sort out the families’ financial situation and to work with you both to find solutions to your financial concerns. The Financial Neutral will help the couple to deal with all of the financial issues you both face, including planning for your future. The Financial Neutral will help you both by assisting you in assembling information and sharing that information with you and the Team, so you may all work together to help reach amicable financial agreements. Through the voluntary sharing of all information and documents, each of you will be provided with the information needed for informed decision making. The Financial Neutral will meet with each of you separately and with the Team to help you develop solutions to the family’s financial challenges.
A Mission Statement is developed by the two of you with the help of your Collaborative Team. The development of a joint Mission Statement serves as a strong tool that keeps the couple on track and moving towards accomplishing their goals. Whether the goals are child-centered or financially centered, a Mission Statement will always bring you back to why you chose the Collaborative Process.
Once you and your spouse/partner have decided upon your Mission Statement, you’re ready to deal with disclosure requirements. Even though this process is consensual, State Law requires that formal legal documents are known as Declarations of Disclosure be prepared on behalf of each of you and exchanged. A Financial Neutral can help both of you with this requirement. Since all persons going through a divorce are required to be completely transparent with each other and disclose all matters that may affect the family, a Financial Neutral is essential in most cases for a fair resolution.
At your first meeting with your spouse or partner, you may set your timetable for completing disclosure requirements and address other issues that are of immediate significance to you. You may also discuss whether your family would be best served by utilizing other collaboratively trained professionals to assist you through the Collaborative Process.
The Collaborative Process utilizes each profession’s training and talents to assist with reaching an amicable agreement and many times at a fraction of the costs of a contested (litigated) divorce. While each case is different, a wide variety of studies and reports have all concluded that the Collaborative Divorce Process is typically completed at a significant savings to the family both financially and emotionally.
Please go to the Members Profiles tab above to find a Collaborative Professional near you.