Sunday, December 20, 2009

Explaining Collaborative Divorce

My Should Indiana Have a Statute Promoting Collaborative Divorce? attracted some attention (ok, two people commented when the link was posted to Facebook). Trying to explain collaborative divorce in the little space on Facebook was probably not a good idea. Instead, let me refer everyone to articles from Laurie Israel and Steve Worrall. They do a much better job than I ever would.

Collaborative Practice: A Marriage to the Divorce

The transformative nature of the process is created by several features of Collaborative Practice. One of these is dealing with each other with truthfulness. This leads to a transparency in the Collaborative process that transforms what might have ended up in nastiness into something else - a final, magnanimous, clear-eyed parting of one relationship (spouses) and beginning of another (ex-spouses, co-parents)

Another feature that engenders a transformative result is the agreement not to litigate while in the Collaborative process. This is the so-called "Commitment Agreement", a legally-binding pledge to work out the terms of divorce within the Collaborative Practice team, without resorting to litigation. Yes — the parties (or either of them) can choose to "opt out" and litigate their case (with other attorneys) at any time. But generally they don't, and the case stays within the Collaborative process. As a result, the parties are provided with a sense of safety while they work out the practical and emotional issues relevant in their new circumstance of no longer being spouses. This is what Collaborative practitioners refer to as the "safe container" of Collaborative Practice. It is a net of safety that really works to let the parties work on their divorce with clarity and ease.

Within the container of the Collaborative process, the parties are able to discuss their divorce and the possible terms with freedom and truthfulness and in their own time. They are able and encouraged to express their own needs and fears. The Collaborative Practice team is there to assist them with knowledge about the technical aspects of divorce and to help in finding solutions. The team also assists in keeping the process from emotionally getting off-track.

Georgia Family Law Blog: Collaborative Law FAQ's
Collaborative family law is a new approach to dealing with separation and divorce issues that doesn't involve the courts. If you adopt this process you and your respective lawyers formally agree (i.e. sign a written agreement) to work together to find a mutually acceptable and fair solution to your financial and child related issues - without involving the courts.

Whenever I write about collaborative divorce, I always say this: there will be no change until the general public knows there is an alternative to an adversarial divorce. I still that is true.

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