The Stages of a Collaborative Divorce
- Stage One: Formation, Information Gathering, and Education
- Stage Two: Generating Options
- Stage Three: Co-Creating the Agreement and Completion
Normally, each stage is concluded before moving on to the next stage. That allows for an orderly progression and allows everyone to anticipate what is coming next. The time and form of the process is customized to each unique situation, which takes into account the complexity of the issues, the readiness of each client and the professionals, the degree of conflict, and other factors.
Stage One: The Information Gathering and Education Stage of Collaborative Divorce
The information-gathering and educational stage is the place where everyone gathers, shares, and learns information needed to make good decisions for the long term. It often includes financial, parenting, emotional, and legal information. This stage can include meetings and homework. It helps ensure everyone has a solid foundation for the discussions to come. Commonly, the financial specialist collects and shares financial information and prepares a financial report to ensure everyone understands the financial resources, needs, and possibilities.
The Information Gathering stage is usually the stage that takes the longest. It may take two or more joint sessions. The total number of sessions varies due to many factors, including the issues and complexity of the case, whether homework is completed, and whether everyone is ready to proceed to the next stage.
Stage Two: Option Generation
The Option Generation stage has several distinct steps. It is based on a solid understanding of the “Key Elements of an Agreement” for each—your interests, needs, and concerns. This way, everyone can better understand what is most important to you and your spouse, without getting tied down by specific solutions. This allows everyone to focus on what matters most, and to come up with approaches that might work for everyone. It also allows you to prioritize what is most important to you, so that your resources are most effectively used.
After that, we discuss the possibilities that might effectively address your and your spouse’s Key Elements of Agreement, and consider the advantages and disadvantages of various options so we can joint select those that are most promising.
The purpose for this stage is to ensure that all issues and concerns are addressed as best as can be, and that the options for addressing those needs are considered and part of the discussion.
Stage Three: Building an Agreement Together
The Agreement stage has us working together to bundle options into a possible scenario that addresses your Key Elements of Agreement. Often, financial scenarios are modeled, so you and your spouse can clearly see the implications and make adjustments. Once everyone has had time to consider and discuss the scenarios, and is satisfied, you will have created an agreement in principle. Your Collaborative lawyers will then prepare the necessary legal documents to make your agreements legally binding, and to complete your divorce or legal separation.
Wrapping Up the Collaborative Divorce Settlement
Your Collaborative divorce attorneys will prepare the final paperwork and ensure that all legal requirements are addressed. Final papers are often signed together.
Because divorce is such a major life transition, many divorcing couples who go through the Collaborative Divorce process choose a small ritual to mark the completion of the process at the time of signing. A ritual can bring help bring closure to this important transition, allow both parties to honor themselves and each other for the work and integrity shown through difficult times, and act as a meaningful symbol of a transition to a new future. Not all divorcing couples wish such a ritual, but if you do, it is worth taking time to think about what would make it meaningful