Collaborative Divorce is a specialized and rapidly growing practice in Divorce and Matrimonial Law. A departure from the traditional style of divorce, it is carried out in a series of privately held sessions with Collaborative Divorce Professionals in the fields of law, psychology and finance. The goal is to reorganize the family system and restructure the finances to end a marriage with a coherent and durable agreement going forward.
BY WAY OF BACKGROUND
The Collaborative Law approach to divorce first began in 1990 with divorce attorney Stu Webb in Minnesota and was developed as an interdisciplinary practice by divorce attorney Pauline H. Tesler and psychologist Peggy Thompson in California. The practice of Collaborative Divorce has become widespread and is now recognized in every state in the United States, Canada, and is growing worldwide.
A PARADIGM SHIFT
There are several distinct differences in Collaborative Divorce that represent a paradigm shift in the way cases are traditionally handled:
- The family is considered the client and the focus is on future function rather than the past mistakes of the marriage that led to its breakdown.
- Attorneys are legal counselors whose role is to educate, evaluate and develop options without recommending or predicting outcomes.
- Mental Health Professionals are involved to provide neutral support, facilitate communication, manage conflict, and if needed, develop co-parenting plans.
- Certified Divorce Financial Analysts work with both spouses in the financial restructuring and development of possible financial solutions, both immediate and long-term.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
One of the most important requirements is a joint and written commitment to maintain the privacy of the case and not to litigate in court. Called a “Participation Agreement” the divorcing spouses both promise to refrain from filing motions in court. The commitment is also made to fully cooperate with the team professionals including providing full disclosures of all relevant information.
IS IT FOR YOU?
There are benefits to the type of process offered in Collaborative Divorce, but it is not for everyone. If there is a history of domestic abuse or violence in the relationship, or if there is a willingness to conceal or lie about finances, then we would likely recommend an alternative or traditional approach. There must be a commitment on the part of both spouses to adhere to the principles of Collaborative Divorce throughout the process to successfully reach a settlement.
The firm of Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC, with offices in Westport and Greenwich, concentrates in family law and divorce. We have a qualified Collaborative Divorce attorney with membership in the Collaborative Divorce Professionals of Fairfield County and the Collaborative Divorce Practice Group of Darien to work with you throughout the process. We also offer full services in traditional divorce should that be the right approach for your case.