Is a Collaborative Divorce Right for Me?
The Collaborative Divorce Process
Each party hires a trained Collaborative Family Lawyer, and other professionals as needed, who will all work together in a cooperative, non-adversarial process. The objective is a mutually acceptable agreement on all issues, rather than an agreement that requires a lot of compromise of what really matters in your unique situation.
You, your spouse, and your lawyers promise to voluntarily disclose all financial and other relevant information in writing and to proceed respectfully and in good faith as you negotiate toward a settlement. All parties also agree to refrain from using or threatening to use the court litigation process. The result is no threatening letters between lawyers, no unreasonable positions, no affidavits with hurtful accusations.
Consider the Massachusetts Collaborative Family Law Process if some or all of these statements are true for you:
• You want a civilized, respectful resolution of the issues.You want education, guidance and legal advice without the risk of escalated court battles.
• You recognize the importance of working through emotions in order to make comprehensive legal, financial and child-related agreements.
• You and your partner have children together and you want the best family relationship possible now and in the future, and want to avoid the harm associated with court battles.You and your partner have a circle of friends and extended family in common.
• You place a high value on taking personal responsibility for handling conflicts with integrity.You value privacy and do not want your personal or financial information available in the public court record.
• You recognize that you and your partner can make better decisions about your family and finances than anyone else.
• You understand that Collaborative resolution involves achieving your reasonable goals and achieving the reasonable goals of your partner, rather than achieving a financial or child placement victory no matter the human or financial cost.
• You value final resolution that avoids the pain and expense of having to return to court multiple times.
• Your goals include a vision for your family that extends long beyond the immediate matter at hand, into retirement for you and your partner and adulthood for the children.
The Four-Way Meeting
A key component of a successful Collaborative Process is the four-way meeting. The four-way meeting is a structured setting in which both parties and their lawyers communicate directly with one another and negotiate until a settlement is reached. This result in a team approach to resolving family law disputes. If and when you need additional Collaborative professionals, such as mental health or financial specialists, you bring them into the Process.
Because everyone involved is committed to voluntarily disclosing necessary information, formal measures force disclosure are unnecessary. And there is no place for argumentative, accusatory, or threatening letters between lawyers.In the Collaborative Process, interest-based negotiation is utilized by your lawyers. This is an approach to dispute resolution which helps redirect the parties from wanting a certain outcome, or taking a certain position, and refocuses them on underlying needs, wants, values and objectives.
When the parties agree on what’s truly important to them – for example, if both of you want your children to stay in their current school district – you engage in interest-based negotiation. That way, you build the resolution that best addresses your common goals. Interest-based negotiation encourages oriented discussions that are win-win, creative problem solving, and settlements that will address the needs of the family as a whole.
Once an agreement is reached, a written agreement is drafted by the lawyers. If you were married, the key terms in the agreement are repeated in a final divorce judgment.