Any California resident who is contemplating an end to his or her marriage ordinarily is worried about the anger and emotional pain that seems to be an unescapable part of the process. For years, attorneys and family law courts in California and elsewhere have attempted to devise a legal procedure that would eliminate the anguish of a divorce, especially where children are involved. Mediation was the first attempt, and it has had reasonable success. But some advocates and jurists were not satisfied. In the last ten years, a new process has evolved: collaborative divorce.
The basics of collaborative divorce
Collaborative divorce is based upon the belief that two reasonable people can use the advice and counsel of experts to identify their reasons for wanting a divorce and can use this advice to negotiate a peaceful end to the marriage. The first step is for the divorcing parties to agree to understand and use the collaborative divorce process. This understanding must include the services of attorneys who understand and practice collaborative divorce. Other professionals may also be necessary; these may include experts in child psychology, accountants and financial advisers, property appraisers and others.
Each participant must sign an agreement to engage in the collaborative process. If the process is successful, the parties will end their marriage by signing their own divorce decree. If not, and here is the important part, all parties will abandon the case and will agree not to participate further, even if the matter ultimately goes to court. The divorcing spouses explicitly agree that neither of them will attempt to retain the same attorney for a divorce trial.
Why collaborative divorce works
Everyone who enters the collaborative divorce process understands that the goal is helping the two parties end their marriage by discussing and resolving all areas of conflict. Each participant, including the lawyers, is explicitly committed to avoiding hostility and anger in these discussions. The search is for resolution, not conflict or triumph.
Anyone who is interested in pursuing a collaborative divorce may wish to consult a California divorce attorney who understands and has participated in one or more collaborative divorces. No one should choose – or reject – collaborative divorce without obtaining a full understanding of the procedure.