Collaborative divorce is an alternative to the traditional litigation model divorce. Meaning, instead of going into a courtroom and having public, emotionally draining, and expensive hearings, you have a series of private, confidential meetings designed to be faster, less damaging and more amicable.
For example, say you own a house and need to decide what to do with it. The first thing that must be done is to determine what it is worth. In the litigation model, both sides hire an appraiser who gives a report. If the reports are vastly different, the Court may appoint an independent appraiser to do a third report. This third appraiser is paid for equally by both parties. In the collaborative model, the parties agree on one appraiser and accept that one report. You have not only saved a great deal of money, you have saved weeks, or even months, of time.
The way to get a collaborative divorce is by agreement. Once one of the spouses files for divorce, before any hearings are held, the parties can inform the Court that they have agreed to handle the divorce collaboratively. At that point, the divorce is removed from the Court’s active docket. The parties then agree on both the meeting times and agendas in advance. Both child and property issues can be dealt with in a collaborative divorce. The parties are able to move as quickly or methodically as they agree to. They also have the option of being as creative as possible and bringing in any professionals they agree are necessary, for instance, counselors, appraisers, financial planners, etc.
Should the collaborative process fail, both attorneys must withdraw and attorneys must be hired to take the case through the litigation process.