Collaborative Divorce refers to a cooperative divorce settlement process where the attorneys and the clients commit to a non-court, non-litigation resolution of the various legal issues around the legal divorce. This is a forward looking and immeasurably more civilized process than the one used in the traditional adversary system, where the clients and the attorneys are often pitted against each other, the proceedings are long and drawn out and families can be torn apart in the process. It is the aim of the collaborative divorce to help keep families intact and communicating through the transition process of divorce and to be sure the children have a voice and are not overlooked in the process.
Within the steps of a collaborative divorce, there are a series of meetings with the attorneys and clients to help work through the relevant legal issues. Often there are other professionals used as part of the collaborative team to help further support the clients/family and to serve as neutral advisors in various subject areas relevant to the case. For example, many cases may benefit from the use of a divorce coach, who works with the individual clients during the process to help them maintain their balance, alleviate stress and emotional uncertainty and serve as a communication advisor to prevent communication break-downs between the clients as the case moves forward.
Also, many cases can benefit from the use of a single neutral financial advisor. This professional will organize the financial aspects of the case for the attorneys and clients and present and explain the various settlement options available to them. This is not only less costly than it might be if each attorney undertook this task separately, but it also makes good use of a specialized professional who, unlike most attorneys, works with financial issues everyday as their primary focus of work.
If children are involved in the divorce, there also may be great benefit in using a child specialist to understand and give voice to the children’s needs and wishes. So often it is the children who can be easily forgotten in a situation that so significantly impacts their lives and where their parents are under their own stress.
A collaborative divorce is increasingly being requested by clients who have been educated about the process. This settlement process for resolving legal and other divorce issues not only gives them a voice they rarely find in the traditional adversary process but it supports and encourages their own participation and cooperative problem solving with each other.
The Collaborative Law Group of Southern Arizona, of which Peter D Axelrod is a founding member, is a local Tucson resource for collaborative divorce.