What is Collaborative Practice?

Collaborative Practice is the holistic, innovative,non-adversarial and private way to resolve conflicts.  It is the preferable method where people seek to maintain their working relationships and find a solution to the problems facing them. Collaboratively trained professionals work with people to find workable  and lasting solutions based upon the interests and needs of the people involved. Collaborative Practice is particularly useful in areas involving high emotion such as disputes concerning families, neighbors, and valued business relations. The principles apply to  probate, estate planning, trust administration, divorce, custody, visitation, guardianship, conservatorship, neighbor disputes, business partners, and any matter in which the participants can agree that maintaining good will is valued.

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce provides a  supportive team approach to reaching a workable settlement agreement that empowers a divorcing couple to have self- determination in the course of their future lives with the assistance of professionals to help them make good decisions in a non-adversarial manner.  It is a dignified manner in which to dissolve the bonds of matrimony. It also provides for resolution of matters that the court does not have the power to address.

Once the settlement agreement is reached and signed by the parties, a complaint is filed in court for the dissolution of the marriage to obtain a judgment of divorce.The agreed upon settlement is incorporated into a judgment of divorce without the need for any adversarial hearings. A divorce under this practice provides the most private manner of obtaining a divorce possible.


How does it Work?

Each party hires an attorney who is trained in the area of Collaborative Divorce. The attorneys, the parties and a mutually selected divorce coach, a neutral mental health professional, trained in Collaborative Divorce and experienced in marital and family counselling, sign a Collaborative Divorce agreement. The mental health professional serves as a facilitator and as a divorce coach for the divorcing couple to help to support them in their emotional needs through a difficult time and to assist in good decision making focusing them upon the present issues for resolution and for the future sustainability. In some cases two divorce coaches may be preferred.  A financial neutral is most often a part of the team. The financial neutral helps the couple and team to work out  and means test different options for desired outcomes so they have good information  upon which to make an informed decision as to the ultimate settlement choice. Where children are involved, a child mental health specialist can be included on  the team. This specialist assists the couple with reaching an agreement that encompasses the child’s best interests in a manner that cannot otherwise be accomplished through traditional means. A holistic and realistic appraisal of what is in the children's best interests can best be reached through this process. If a business is involved, one neutral business valuation specialist is agreed upon.  

The Collaborative Divorce agreement includes agreements for confidentiality, privacy and for the parties and attorneys to stay out of court and to co-operate until an agreement is reached. In the event that the parties become adversarial, the attorneys and other team members must resign and are prohibited from future involvement or representation of the parties. This provides an environment that fosters openness as well as  an incentive to commit to see the collaborative process through.

The goal of a collaborative divorce is to reach a settlement through empowerment and education of the divorcing couple so that they can reach a workable agreement that they craft with the help of the professional collaborative divorce team.

 Why is there an advantage to Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is a holistic, innovative, and non-adversarial way to obtain a divorce with dignity. It allows a separating couple to utilize services of two attorneys working together with a neutral facilitator who is a licensed  mental health professional with marital and family counselling experience to support the separating couple in determining the course of their future lives. Absent is the imposition of rulings  by a judge, who does not know the couple and who is influenced by the one sided arguments forwarded by each of the couple’s attorneys.  Resolution on matters  in a divorce case such as : property settlement, child custody, parenting time, child support, alimony is tailored to the divorcing couple. It has the advantage of addressing issues important to the separating spouses such as support of persons over the age of 18, . It has the potential to be the most efficient resolution because there are no hearings in court where the parties pay attorneys to wait while other matters are heard.

Does it cost less than traditional adversarial divorce ?

While Collaborative Divorce may be less expensive, more expensive or cost the same as a traditional litigated divorce, it has the distinct advantage of being tailored and determined by the parties with the assistance of the team to meet their unique and precise needs. While divorce is never easy, this is path to divorce with the most support and ease for all involved. While costs can not be guaranteed, almost all cases handled collaboratively cost less than if the same matter were handled in the traditional adversarial process.Experts in each area handle matters in their area of expertise, which is cost effective.  Dollar cost savings are typically realized in the post-divorce phase. As a workable settlement agreement is reached through the collaborative process, there is little need for post-judgment motions and evidentiary hearings. With a traditional negotiated settlement often the parties are back in court after the judgment is entered to address matters that are unsatisfactory to one of the parties. The dignity maintained through the process as compared with a traditional process is priceless. 

Is Collaborative Divorce for Everyone? 
No. It is not for  those who want to make their partner suffer . It is designed for people who want to cooperate and dissolve their marriage with dignity and respect in a peaceful manner. It is not recommended for people who cannot fully participate due to mental illness, significant mental disabilities, mental or physical abuse, or marked vengefullness.  Active participation is required in the process. It is not exclusively for persons who have little or no conflict. Collaborative professionals are trained to help parties with conflict reach resolution.  


Collaborative Practice FAQ's 

Amicable Divorce​Rochester Hills

​​Fordree Law Firm, P.C.