As an experienced divorce lawyer, collaborative practitioner, and mediator, Cynthia Todd, discusses Collaborative Divorce:

What is Collaborative Practice?
Collaborative Practice is a voluntary dispute resolution process in which parties settle without resorting to the traditional adversarial court process.  A primary focus of the collaborative process is to create more respectful and effective ongoing relationships within the restructured family.  The approach is intended to help couples end their marriage without destroying their family.
In Collaborative Practice:

  • Each client is represented and supported by their own collaborative attorney throughout the process of separation or divorce.
  • At the outset, the clients and their attorneys sign an agreement, in which they commit to the following: 
    • to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement without court intervention;
    • to engage in open communication and information sharing; and
    • to create shared solutions that meet the needs of both clients.
  • The agreement requires that if either client chooses to go to court, the lawyers will withdraw from representing their respective clients and will not handle any subsequent court proceeding.
  • A team of professionals is formed to assist the clients.  The team is committed to working toward a resolution without going to court.  Mental health “coaches” may facilitate by addressing emotional issues, which would otherwise hinder the process.  A separate therapist may assist with the children’s needs.  A financial neutral can assist with resolving the financial issues.

Is a Collaborative Divorce right for me?
In a Collaborative Divorce, each client benefits by receiving professional support and advice of their own lawyer, without engaging in an adversarial traditional court divorce.  The clients also benefit from the support of their team of specialists, who are working together to help the clients reach a settlement.  Through the collaborative process, the clients receive all material and relevant information that is necessary to reach a settlement.  With the support of their team, the clients negotiate a mutually acceptable resolution without ever going to court.  Thus, the process is client-driven, private, and confidential. 

In addition, a Collaborative Divorce has many cost-saving benefits to a traditional adversarial
court divorce.  For example, the cost of experts is typically shared by both parties. 

Also, the legal fees for a Collaborative Divorce are often significantly less than in a traditional
court divorce.  As an example, to obtain necessary information and documents in a traditional court divorce, the parties (through their attorneys) typically engage in the “discovery” process—often a costly and protracted process.  But, because the clients in a Collaborative Divorce commit to the voluntary and full disclosure of relevant information and documents necessary to make agreements, they avoid the discovery process altogether.

However, Collaborative Practice is probably not the best approach for you if:
  • Your partner or spouse is unwilling to voluntarily and fully disclose relevant and material information.
  • Your partner or spouse is unwilling or incapable of respectful and open communication with you and other professionals.
  • Your partner or spouse is unwilling or incapable of negotiating in a manner that meets your needs as well as their own needs.

For additional information, you can click here to go to Collaborative Practice California's website.  There you can download a "Collaborative Divorce Knowledge Kit," which answers many common questions about Collaborative Practice and relays stories of real families who used and benefited from Collaborative Practice.

Collaborative Divorce:

Family Law & Mediation

Clarus Law