Collaborative Divorce Is a Process
A “Collaborative Divorce” is not the same as people acting friendly with each other. It is actually a distinct process with its own rules, conventions, and legal requirements under the Uniform Collaborative Law Act. And it can involve 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 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 the outcome of the divorce, to correct misunderstandings, 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, and process discussions of what to expect next.
After that initial meeting, the process normally has three progressive stages:
Stage One: Information Gathering
Stage Two: Defining the Questions and Generating Options
Stage Three: Co-Creating the Agreement
More detail on each of these stages can be found on the Stages of the Process page.
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.
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.