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The process of going to court for a divorce creates conflict and is predicated on an assumption of distrust. In a collaborative divorce, an alternative dispute resolution method, the parties reach a written agreement resolving their divorce in a confidential, private process without going to court. Rather than giving up control of your lives to the court system, you and your spouse keep control of the decisions yourselves.
The goal is to help families negotiate a respectful end, a thoughtful transition and a healthy new beginning. The key is communication and support from appropriately trained professionals who are experts in their area.
Specifically, the collaborative approach focuses on attaining resolution through a structured process designed to protect the interests of your children and to help you and your spouse move forward by encouraging spouses to reach a workable settlement by building on areas of mutual agreement. To accomplish this, you and your spouse consent in writing to be part of a respectful process in the form of a series of face-to-face meetings with each other, your respective lawyers and other professionals as needed during which you work together as a team to restructure your assets and your family without court involvement. (Divorce usually involves many considerations, from concern for children to financial questions to property matters. For that reason, other professionals, including divorce/communication coaches, child specialists, financial consultants and vocational/career consultants can become part of your team.)
These sessions are intended to produce an honest exchange of information and expression of needs and expectations. When the issues are openly discussed, problem-solving can be direct and solution oriented. Further, divorcing under the collaborative method encourages bonds creating a new kind of family for the future.
The collaborative process is another alternative dispute resolution system for those who feel they need more individual support than is offered by traditional mediation.