Should You Use Collaborative Law in Your Divorce?

Envision a world where peace and compassion reside in every heart.

Parental conflict permanently damages children.

What do clients think about the Collaborative Law Divorce Process?

Collaborative law is one option for divorcing couples who want to consider a non-adversarial process for their divorce. Collaborative Law requires that both parties have attorneys who have been formally trained in the Collaborative Model and each Collaborative attorney signs a written agreement with their client to resolve their divorce without court involvement. The agreement indicates that the attorney will represent the client without litigation and if the client chooses to terminate the Collaborative case process, he or she and their spouse will need to engage other counsel. Both parties to the Collaborative Divorce also sign an agreement with the same terms.

Three people who used the Collaborative Law process for their divorces agreed to talk about the process and whether they would recommend the option to others. To protect their privacy, their names have been changed.

Ann Sawyer, a working mother with two small children indicated that, “For us, Collaborative Law was a way to move forward with the divorce knowing that there was buy-in from both sides, that we were committed to our kids, and that personal animosity would be on the back burner. I had a big fear that someone who did not know us, or our family would be making the decisions for our kids. That was a risk I did not even want to consider.”

Ann said she had a vested interest in having a fair and equal agreement, as making the father of her children miserable would not do anyone any good.

Now that she and her ex-husband are a year out from their divorce, Ann says that they still honor the agreement they made to promote the common good to move the family forward.

Ann appreciated the attorney’s roles, indicating that she liked having someone looking over their shoulders and giving them ideas about how to avoid the pitfalls and manage the risks.

When asked whether she would recommend Collaborative Law to others, Ann indicated, “Absolutely, but it has to be very important to you to be the better person and put the kids first.”

Mike Sawyer agreed with his former wife, Ann, that they both really wanted a process that was truly better for the kids.

He said that   they chose Collaborative Law because they believed they would be better served with each of them having a legal advocate rather than a neutral mediator.

Donna Abbot, another professional working mother whose Collaborative divorce ended over a year ago, described their co-parenting, ” We get along great and the kids are doing well!”   Donna said that she thinks that divorce is horrible and difficult but Collaborative Law tries to approach the conflict in as peaceful a way as possible.  Donna liked that the process focused on making sure the children were winning and not on beating each other.  Donna also thought that the pace of the Collaborative Process that can be set with Collaborative Law is helpful.  “You can take as much time as you need.  When you file with the court their deadlines add stress.”   Donna and her husband used a joint child specialist/divorce coach whose job was to help them focus on the children.

When asked about the costs of the Collaborative Process, Donna said, “The expense was a lot but the people I know who did not use Collaborative Law spent double.” The Abbots used one neutral financial expert who helped them through the stressful process of dividing assets and helped them realize that finance issues did not have to be a legal battle.

Donna has recommended the Collaborative Process to friends explaining that divorce is one of the hardest things to do but if there is an easier way, Collaborative Law is it. Donna proudly explains that many people have asked them how they learned to co-parent so well and tell them that they are role models. She says that she thinks their collaborative co-parenting is not only the result of the process they used but also because they were very committed to putting their children’s needs ahead of their own.

Terri Harrington, Esq.
Denver Center for Mediation & Collaborative Law

A full-service Certified Public Accounting Firm located in Denver, Shuster & Company  PC provides quality, personalized financial advice and guidance to individuals, businesses and the legal community. We offer an extensive range of services, with emphasis in forensic accounting, business valuation, and litigation support.