Steven Rubenstein, Attorney At Law has written a fine piece explaining the benefits of this relatively new approach to handling divorce cases.
If you are considering getting out of your marriage, you may want to consider this alternative approach.
Collaborative divorce is an alternative dispute resolution process that is similar to and yet different from mediation. Mediation involves a neutral third party (the mediator) with whom the couple meets and who helps them try to negotiate an agreement. While each party is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney (a review attorney) to assist them, usually the attorneys are not directly involved in the mediation process. The parties each meet with their respective attorneys either before or after the mediation sessions to review with them what will be or was discussed with the mediator and to give them some guidance about it. The review attorney also reviews the agreement ultimately reached as a result of the mediation.
Collaborative divorce differs from mediation in that it allows each party to be represented by his/her attorney during the collaborative sessions. The collaborative divorce attorneys are also trained mediators. They guide the couple and assist them in negotiating their agreement in a civil, respectful and collaborative manner. It is based on three principles: a pledge to settle the case without going to court; an honest and open exchange of information between the couple; and a good faith effort to explore solutions that address the needs and concerns of all family members. If the collaborative process fails, each of the attorneys must remove him/herself from the case and the clients must retain other attorneys to represent them.
For couples that are reluctant to give up the right to litigate if the collaborative process fails, most collaborative attorneys will offer them an alternative–cooperative divorce. The cooperative divorce process differs from collaborative in that the parties do not give up their right to litigate if the process fails and their attorneys can continue to represent them.
Both the collaborative and cooperative models are interdisciplinary, i.e. they make use of other professionals, as needed, such as mental health professionals, who deal with the parties’ emotions that might affect the process, or child specialists to deal with the children’s concerns and help in developing a parenting plan, and financial advisors. Both models offer a process in which there is mutual respect; a focus on the needs of the family, especially including children; which will keep the parties out of court and allow them to have maximum control of the outcome; is cost effective; and offers a creative, problem solving approach to the issues involved in their divorce. Collaborative divorce offers couples who are seeking a more constructive, less expensive and far less contentious way to dissolve their relationship and address the issues involved in doing so.
Attorney Rubenstein has forty years of family law experience. He can be reached at 201 802-9202 or at SRubenstein@mfmclaw.com