Eight Steps To A Collaborative Divorce

Step One – Find your collaborative lawyer

Your first task is to find your own collaboratively trained lawyer. Your spouse will do the same. Sometimes, spouses coordinate this search so they both feel comfortable with the choices each has made in the selection of their collaborative lawyer. Once you and your spouse have hired your lawyers, they will contact each other to develop a roadmap for your collaborative case and set your first joint meeting. You will meet privately with your lawyer prior to the first joint meeting to prepare.

Step Two – Start the Divorce Process

An initial joint meeting is held for the parties and their lawyers to discuss the process, share high-end goals, manage immediate issues, and talk about what other professionals should be involved. These professionals may include a neutral financial specialist, neutral child specialist, divorce coach(es), and others as needed. A Participation Agreement is signed during this meeting.

Step Three – Immediate Needs First

Very commonly, spouses have immediate issues and problems to resolve first thing. These issues are handled in the first collaborative joint sessions.

Step Four – Selecting Experts

In a collaborative divorce, only collaboratively trained experts are used. In the initial joint collaborative session (if not before), we will talk about the experts you and your spouse may benefit from in the collaborative process, such as neutral child and family specialists, neutral financial specialists, divorce coaches, and others.

Step Five – Information Gathering

The parties begin to gather all information they need in order to make the best decisions. You can do this with the help of your lawyers, with the help of your financial specialist, or on your own with the support of your collaborative divorce team of professionals. During this phase, the parties may meet privately with lawyers, and/or they may meet with member(s) of the Collaborative Professional Team. One or more joint meeting(s) take place during this phase as things move along.

Step Six – Share interests, needs, and values

Right from the start and throughout your collaborative divorce, you and your spouse will share your needs, interests, and values to better understand each other in relation to your overall goals and unique situation. This is essential. You need to truly understand what is most important to you and your spouse, so your agreements reflect those interests as much as possible. The more your agreements reflect what is most important to you and your spouse, the more long-lasting they will be.

Step Seven – Generate Options and Negotiate Agreements

In this phase, we ask you and your spouse to think about these questions: “Given what you understand about your assets, liabilities and cash flow by gathering information and sharing interests, how do you:

  • Create a financial plan for each of you that meets as many of the interests you each expressed as much as possible; and
  • Create a parenting time arrangement that best meets your children’s needs?”

Then you and your spouse will be asked to evaluate your options. It is common for each party to have different ideas about their situation, so your Collaborative Professional Team is ready to help you evaluate what you like and do not like, and build agreements that express as much as possible each of your interests, needs, and values.

Step Eight – Obtain Your Legal Divorce

Once your agreements are reached, your collaborative lawyers will prepare all the necessary paperwork, everyone will review and sign, and they will be filed in court. No court appearance is necessary.

The best way to find out if this approach is best for you is to schedule a Consultation with Nancy. Collaborative Divorce is not the right approach for every client, and Nancy will help you evaluate all your process options to help you find the right fit for your unique situation. Call 360-816-2246 or schedule online.

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