Collaborative Divorce Is a Process
“Collaborative Divorce” is a divorce process with its own rules, conventions, and even legal requirements established by the the Uniform Collaborative Law Act. The focus of the process is entirely on helping clients reach agreements with legal support, while keeping discussions productively focused. The lawyers can only help their clients reach agreements; the cannot go to court on contested matters. This helps allow there to be productive discussions about difficult issues with strong disagreements. The protocols and requirements provide important protections and help maximize the likelihood of a successful resolution.
Collaborative professionals are not only committed to represent clients without invoking the courts, but have training and experience in interest-based dispute resolution and the Collaborative Divorce process. The cornerstone of the process is that the professionals are hired for the singular purpose of assisting the parties reach agreement.
Is a Collaborative Divorce right for you? To find out, contact Seattle Collaborative Divorce attorney Mark Weiss at (206) 622-6707.
It Starts with the Participation Agreement
The Participation Agreement starts the Collaborative Divorce process. Once signed by the clients and attorneys at the start of a Collaborative divorce, it provides ground rules to ensure the integrity of the process. For example, both spouses agree to provide all information and documents that could impact decision making, and to negotiate respectfully. For a sample Participation Agreement, click HERE.
The Collaborative Divorce Process
Once you’ve both decided that the Collaborative Divorce is right for you, the attorneys will coordinate on logistics (such as setting the agenda) and schedule the first meeting.
Each of you will meet with your Collaborative lawyer to prepare for the process. Normally, your initial preparation will be a combination of exploring what goals and concerns you may have, your conflict styles, and a review of details of the process so there are no surprises.
Once you’re ready, the lawyers and the parties will all meet together to lay the foundation for the process. This first meeting is an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other, and will normally include reviewing and signing the Participation Agreement, sharing goals for the divorce, creating task lists for what’s next so everyone can participate effectively, and a process overview to ensure there are no surprises. Priorities may also be discussed at that time.
After that initial meeting, the process normally has three progressive stages:
Stage One: Information Gathering and Understanding. This usually involves sharing financial information, often with the help of a neutral financial specialist. It also can include background discussions about co-parenting children, and understanding the priorities of each person, and education about implications of different decisions that may be under consideration.
Stage Two: Generating Options. We look at options for consideration that may address the priorities of each. We evaluate the options to try to find what will work best.
Stage Three: Co-Creating the Agreement. Based on the most promising options, we put together a scenario. We then kick the tires to try to make sure the scenario will work.
Creating a Divorce Resolution
Reaching a resolution means that everyone has a similar understanding. The only way to get there is by communicating. You and your spouse are therefore the key participants at every meeting. You will also be making the decisions.
Because an agreement that unravels is normally not in anyone’s interest, the process is designed so the needs and concerns of all are taken into account. The structure of the Collaborative Divorce process is informed by this.