Divorce is designed to terminate a marriage. Must it also destroy relationships and shatter finances? Is it possible for spouses to divorce and continue to provide a foundation and support for the newly restructured family?

Collaborative divorce provides a way to resolve a divorce in a safe, cooperative and respectful manner. Through a series of negotiating sessions, the parties and their lawyers discuss immediate concerns, identify long-term goals, share necessary financial information and jointly retain neutral financial and counseling professionals as part of the collaborative team.

During negotiating sessions, possible solutions to various problems are discussed, and mutually acceptable options are chosen. Conflict is reduced by the parties’ mutual commitment to the collaborative divorce process which requires the following:

  • A ban on litigation or threats to litigate during the collaborative process;
  • The disqualification of collaborative lawyers and team members from representation in court;
  • The voluntary and complete disclosure of relevant financial information;
  • The joint retention of mutual financial and counseling experts as collaborative team members;
  • The use of the mediation model of good faith, interest-based negotiations

Collaborative divorce practice provides a unique alternative to expensive and time consuming litigation. It entails a unique settlement process that works within the legal system while keeping the parties out of the courtroom. Rather than relying upon court-imposed resolutions, it fosters an atmosphere of honesty, cooperation, integrity and professionalism within which the parties negotiate a settlement geared toward their future well-being.

Specially trained attorneys, neutral financial advisors and neutral communication or counseling experts assist couples to divorce with dignity and respect. Rather than depending upon the courtroom for solutions, the collaborative divorce team attends a series of meetings with their clients to settle the case in a calm, private and non-threatening environment.

Collaborative divorce is only one of many dispute resolution models available to divorcing couples. The best option will depend upon the facts, finances, goals and personalities involved. However, the collaborative divorce process does offer the following advantages:

  1. The focus is solely on settlement;
  2. It creates a less emotionally volatile atmosphere;
  3. It contains more tools for resolving children’s issues;
  4. It can lower the risk of making a bad deal;
  5. It often results in a better quality deal; and
  6. Legal fees are lower and more efficiently used.

Collaborative divorce practice is not appropriate for all cases and is not a perfect or foolproof system. However, it does offer a hopeful alternative to families facing legal disputes and conflicts who possess a desire to settle their differences out of court.

If you are contemplating or are already faced with divorce or other family law issues, I encourage you to learn about collaborative divorce. Please call me at (570) 424-0460 or email me at mlparker@legalchoicesllc.com. You may also reach me at Mary Louise Parker and Associates, LLC at 570-424-9100; the e-mail address is mlparker@mlparkerlaw.com. You will have a unique opportunity to meet with legal, financial and counseling professionals on the benefits of the collaborative approach to family legal issues and why it should be among the options that you consider.

I look forward to meeting with you to discuss this further.