How Do I Begin My Collaborative Divorce?

You have read the literature and thought about your options. You have considered your desire to maintain an amicable relationship with your spouse after your divorce. You want to protect your children from the detrimental effects of an adversarial divorce. You prefer not to waste your valuable assets fighting about how to divide them. You have decided that you would like to use Collaborative Divorce. How do you proceed?

1. Talk to your spouse about Collaborative Divorce.

Collaborative Divorce only works if both parties agree to use it and are willing to participate in the process. Discuss your reasons for choosing Collaborative Divorce and explain them to your spouse. It is likely that your spouse will agree with your goal of maintaining your dignity, preserving your assets and protecting your children.

2. Find a Collaborative Divorce attorney.

Interview your attorney to be sure that he or she is truly a practitioner of the Collaborative Divorce model. Some litigation attorneys will tell you that they practice cooperatively or work collaboratively. That is not the same thing as a true Collaborative Divorce. Ask your prospective attorney if he or she is willing to sign the Collaborative Divorce agreement that (i) prohibits the filing of any motions in court during the divorce process (other than the summons and complaint to initiate the action), and (ii) requires the parties to hire new attorneys if the Collaborative Divorce process terminates. Only attorneys agreeing to sign such an agreement are truly committed to the Collaborative Divorce model. For an interesting discussion about why you should not hire a “gorilla” as your divorce lawyer, click here:

3. Find a Collaborative Divorce Attorney for your spouse.

Ask your Collaborative Divorce attorney for a list of attorneys he or she has worked with successfully. While certainly not mandatory, it is helpful for the two Collaborative Divorce attorneys to have a good working relationship.

4. Think about how best to use the Collaborative Divorce process.

Collaborative Divorce attorneys will often incorporate other Collaborative Divorce professionals into the process. You may find it beneficial to work with a divorce coach, who are mental health professional. A Collaborative Divorce Coach will help you and your spouse overcome emotional obstacles to reaching your goal of an amicable divorce. A Financial Specialist, who is trained in divorce financial management, can help you and your spouse to organize and understand your assets, liabilities and living expenses. When there are minor children of the marriage, a Child Specialist may be appropriate. A Child Specialist

5. Get Organized.

You can facilitate the Collaborative Divorce process by being organized. Start collecting your most recent statements for bank accounts, brokerage accounts, mortgages and other debts. Read my article on Financial Information to Collect in Preparing for Divorce.

6. Think about your goals for your divorce.

Your Collaborative Divorce attorney will ask you about your goals for the process. While you might have some concrete desires, like keeping your house or staying in your current school district for your children, think about your larger goals. Take some time. Make some notes. Referring back to your goals will help you through the challenges of the divorce process.

About Vicki Volper

I am a divorce attorney in Westport who empowers people to divorce in a manner that maintains their dignity, preserves their assets and protects their children.
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