What is a Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative law provides an alternative to the traditional route taken by most divorcing couples. Instead of going to court, they use an amicable divorce process to settle their differences directly, where respect and cooperation are required. Through the collaborative law process, the couple reaches a divorce settlement by retaining their own collaboratively trained lawyers and consulting with other professionals whose only goal is to meet the needs of everyone involved, including both spouses and any children.

Using a collaborative law process saves the time and expense of going through the courts. Also, without the threat of a legal procedure hanging over them, both parties often behave more civilly, focusing on problem solving instead of settling scores.

Is a collaborative law approach the right route for you to take in your divorce case? Our clients report finding greater satisfaction in their settlements than those who go to court. They also appreciate the potential for innovation in this process, as our professionals can suggest creative solutions based on feedback from trained and qualified specialists in areas such as asset sharing and parenting plans.

Why Choose Collaborative Law?

Deciding to end a marriage is an emotionally draining decision. It often feels even harder when the legal proceedings begin. Sitting across the courtroom from your soon-to-be-former spouse is difficult, and fighting over what the dissolution of your marriage should look like can make you angry, sad and frightened.

Opting for collaborative law processes instead offers many advantages, including:

  • A more comfortable environment: You can meet outside of the courtroom, in a place where you and your former partner feel at ease. There is no judge arbitrating the hearing, which can help you relax and participate without worrying about what anyone else may think.
  • Balanced outcome: The collaborative law process can encompass the skills and insights of people outside the legal arena, including financial and mental health professionals.   
  • Potentially lower expenses: It often costs less to use the collaborative process than it does to go to court.
  • Faster settlement: Since both parties communicate directly, reaching terms can take less time.

The Difference Between Collaborative Law and Mediation

While collaborative law and mediation may seem similar, they are actually two separate processes. Mediation relies on a neutral third party to help divorcing couples settle. Lawyers for each side are usually not present. The mediator cannot advocate for either side or provide legal advice to either party. There is greater potential for things to end poorly. There is no mental health professional there when emotions run high, and without counsel there, a spouse less skilled in negotiationcan feel overwhelmed. All of these things can create an adversarial process or cause the process to stall.

Collaborative law stays focused on achieving the settlement while maintaining the interests of both parties. Both spouses receive legal advice throughout the whole process, and a mental health professional acting as a coach is there to help them work through difficult issues. Both sides work to keep the atmosphere positive and discussions productive. No one threatens to take the case to court, and the lawyers uphold strict ethical practices.

Find a Collaborative Professional to Assist You

Collaborative Professionals of Central PA includes professionals who have undergone extensive training in mediation and collaborative law. They have the expertise and knowledge to assist you during your collaborative divorce. Browse our Professional Directory to learn more about our members and how they can help you.