Collaborative Divorce is a constructive, settlement oriented, process designed to help families resolve their conflicts without having to go to court. The following are four core principles that make up the backbone of Collaborative Divorce. The process works at its best when clients, their lawyers and all other professionals participating in the process stay grounded in these five core principles.
1. Constructive Settlement based on Common Courtesy and Care for the Family.
The core purpose of the process is to help people constructively reach settlement through respectful communication, negotiation and compromise. Participants commit to speak, act and communicate in ways that are consistent with attempting to constructively reach settlement. The process is about finding solutions and not attacking, blaming or humiliating the clients or the professionals. The goal of the process is to help families work through family law problems in ways that are less damaging, less traumatic and less expensive than approaches often used in the traditional litigation process. The professionals pledge to speak, act and communicate in ways that are consistent with the goal of caring for the well-being of the family throughout the process.
2. Respect for the Process.
The constructive settlement process consists of a) agreeing to ground rules, b) gathering and exchanging information, c) exploring options, d) evaluating options, e) negotiating solutions, and f) documenting agreements – in that order. Participants recognize and commit to following this process in its sequential steps to help all involved make better, durable and more informed decisions.
3. Informed Decisions made by Empowered Clients.
The process is about empowering people to make informed decisions to resolve their disputes. Participants recognize that full disclosure, transparency and documentation are essential to making informed, durable decisions, and the participants commit to act consistently with the goal of helping all concerned make informed decisions based on full disclosure. The goal of having clients make their own empowered decisions is at the core of the collaborative process. The professionals work to inform, educate and advocate for the clients and the family but the ultimate success or failure of the process rests with the actions and decisions of the clients.
4. Hope for the Future.
The process recognizes that resolving family conflicts can be extremely challenging and often involves broken trust, hurt feelings and strong emotions. The professionals pledge that no matter how difficult or challenging the conflict, they will aspire to speak, act and communicate in ways that promote the hope that in the future there can be some form of peace for a hurting family.
When you interview a professional about helping you with your Collaborative Divorce make sure their words and actions are consistent with the four core principles listed above. If the professional you’re interviewing matches up with the principles listed above in their words and actions, you’re likely talking to a true Collaborative Divorce professional that can help you and your family through a difficult situation. If a professional’s words and actions don’t match up with the core principles listed above, keep interviewing until you find a professional that is a fit for you and a fit with these principles.