What are the Key Elements of a Collaborative Divorce Participation Agreement?
The Collaborative Divorce Process is one of the newer processes available to clients going through separation and/or divorce. Outlined below are some key elements to this process which differs from traditional lawyer to lawyer negotiation. Clients sign a Collaborative Participation Agreement that spells out the process agreed to by the parties and the professionals involved.
- Trained Collaborative Professionals won’t go to court (builds up trust; no mixed motives);
- Coordinate professionals that may be helpful for the particular situation. Two lawyers with option for other team members consisting of one or two mental health coaches, a child specialist and/or a financial specialist. Not all team members required at each meeting – Clients may meet with one or more of the team members as appropriate and most efficient;
- Transparent/full disclosure;
- All advice given in the presence of both parties or shared shortly thereafter;
- Don’t take advantage of mistakes;
- Neutral experts (such as realtor, property appraiser, mortgage broker, business valuator, CPA);
- Confidentiality (with some exceptions);
- No unilateral actions/status quo;
- Focus: Agendas/Minutes/Homework; and
- Goal for both parties to reach an acceptable agreement, using non-adversarial interest-based negotiation, that is better than the alternative to go to court.
These key elements to the Collaborative Divorce Process enable the professionals and their clients to create a binding settlement agreement that will serve them over time and without resorting to adversarial proceedings. Furthermore, the process provides the opportunity for clients to transition from married to divorced using professionals to guide them as they restructure their relationship and family.