THE COLLABORATIVE PRACTICE DIVORCE PROCESS
“Under the guidance of an emotionally intelligent leader, people share ideas, learn from one another, make decisions collaboratively and get things done.”
– Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
One of the attorneys will prepare a Collaborative Practice Agreement. The agreement describes the term and conditions of the process and will be signed by you and your spouse. You and your spouse commit to maintaining open communication, to being transparent with all information and to sharing all the necessary details. You are promising to make a good faith effort to find a solution that is best for everyone involved.
Team meetings are scheduled over a period of time. The parties and their attorneys gather information in a similar way to the mediation process. The team helps you negotiate with your spouse on three major issues, how the debts and assets are divided, how the children will be parented and possible spousal support. The divorce coach may meet with either or both parties individually to help with emotional concerns and support productive communication.
The attorneys in the collaborative law practice act differently than in litigation or mediation. Though each attorney is primarily the consultant of one party, both attorneys do whatever they can to help the process be constructive and to reach a satisfying conclusion. Sometimes this might mean that an attorney acting as the consultant to the wife might suggest ideas that are beneficial to the husband and vice versa. Similar to mediation, both parties consult with one neutral financial professional, appraiser, and/or any other neutral professional that might be helpful.
On rare occasions when the parties cannot reach an agreement through these collaborative practice sessions, the Collaborative Practice Agreement prescribes that the team seeks help from a formal mediation process. The other professionals used in the collaborative process will not be available to parties during the litigation process. If one or both parties wish to leave the collaborative process, the attorneys must withdraw and the parties must seek new litigation attorneys. Such a provision encourages parties to work towards agreement.
If one party opts for collaborative law then their spouse will have to choose one of the other collaborative trained attorneys on that list or any other trained collaborative attorney.
Informative websites include Collaborative Practice and Middle Tennessee Collaborative Practice Group. The Collaborative Practice website, has an excellent 20-minute video from an actual collaborative practice case. Marietta is a member of Middle Tennessee Collaborative Practice Group.