The collaborative divorce approach involves, at a minimum, two attorneys and two clients working together to reach an agreement outside of court. There is a commitment by all involved to address the issues directly, without court intervention or the threat of litigation. The issues are resolved in series of confidential meetings with a full exchange of relevant information. The process relies on honesty, cooperation, integrity and professionalism. It puts the parties at the negotiating table with their attorneys at their side, providing with advocacy, legal advice and assistance with resolving the issues.
Negotiation is interest-based rather than the positional bargaining approach often seen in litigation. In an adversarial or positional bargaining approach, each party stakes out a position, perhaps artificially inflated to provide some negotiation room, and then the parties argue back and forth until they meet somewhere in the middle. The collaborative approach relies upon interest-based or principled negotiation. It starts with the goals and objectives, examines the relevant facts, options for resolution are listed, then, with the assistance of the attorneys, the options are considered, taking into consideration the facts to see which best fit the goals and objectives of the parties. Upon resolving all the issues, the attorneys who helped negotiate the agreement write up the separation agreement and other documents necessary to complete the separation and divorce.
The collaborative process also uses allied professionals, specifically trained in the collaborative process, to help the parties reach resolution in their specific areas of expertise. Allied professionals include child specialists, financial specialists and process coaches. Acting as independent neutral professionals, they assist the parties and the attorneys in understanding the and resolving the various issues.