A key distinction of divorce is that it is a team approach to resolving disputes and reaching an agreement. In the collaborative divorce process you and your spouse are each still be represented by your own attorney. That attorney will be there to support and guide you and work with you on strategies for accomplishing your goals during this process. Your attorney will be there to provide advice on legal matters from child support and custody to property distribution and financial settlements. The private conversations you have with your attorney will still be confidential just like in a traditional divorce process.
The difference is that the collaborative attorney has training and a commitment to helping you reach your goals without going to court and without negotiations becoming adversarial.
In addition to your attorney, you and your spouse will also benefit from a team of collaborative divorce professionals who are also trained in the collaborative divorce process. These professionals are neutral and do not take sides but rather assist in helping the parties come up with creative solutions that meet the individual interests of everyone involved. The collaborative professionals include divorce coaches, financial experts and child specialists.
The neutral collaborative team is there to provide the couple with expert opinions and unbiased information allowing them to craft solutions in the best interest of their family. There is a misconception that engaging with a team of professionals will be too expensive. The truth is the collaborative process is typically less costly than a traditional divorce. In the traditional litigated divorce the couples will each hire their own expert who will then fight over the issues in court. Not only are they each paying for experts to support their case those experts are not typically working to find solutions but rather to posture their clients case.
The team approach is one of the primary distinguishing characteristics of collaborative practice and the reason for its success in helping so many couples divorce with dignity.