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Collaborative divorce as a dispute resolution process for couples

Collaborative divorce is, simply put, a divorce process that allows divorcing couples to work together on their divorce with a team of professionals and avoid going to court. Representatives for each of the spouses provide support, protection and guidance and the lawyers involved agree to withdraw if the divorce process goes to court. Additional professionals, including child specialists, counselors, financial specialists and others, may all be included in the collaborative divorce process to help the divorcing couple reach a settlement agreement in an amicable manner.

Couples can choose additional professionals they believe would be beneficial to the collaborative divorce process for the issues they are facing. The collaborative divorce process is intended to be a dispute resolution process and can be less costly and time consuming, in some instances, for divorcing couples than traditional divorce. Because the collaborative divorce process is better tailored to the needs of the family, it can also be a better process for children. Approximately 25 percent of children experience emotional difficulties following divorce compared to 10 percent of children in families that have not gone through a divorce.

In general, the collaborative process entails the parties signing a collaborative participation agreement that outlines their divorce process; the parties voluntarily disclose material that is relevant to the divorce process; the parties negotiate in good faith to reach a mutually agreeable settlement; the parties are represented by lawyers whose participation is terminated if the divorce goes to court; and the parties engage mental health experts, financial experts and others whose participation also terminates if the divorce goes to court.

The collaborative divorce process is viewed as one that provides a safe place, privacy and protection for divorcing couples to sort out their divorce themselves. As a result, it is worth it for divorcing couples to be familiar with all of the options available to them when considering divorce.

Source: International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, "Facts and Figures about Collaborative Practice," Accessed Oct. 24, 2016

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