I am interested in the Collaborative Divorce Process. Where do I start? (Click here to see the Process Pathway)
The best place to begin is with a free, thirty minute consultation with any one of the Collaborative Divorce Professionals who are members of Gateway to Collaboration. The Collaborative Divorce Professional will explain the different process options and help you choose the process option that is right for you. If you have not yet discussed divorce options with your spouse, you and your Collaborative Divorce Professional can explore ways to help your spouse understand the next steps in the process.
Both my spouse and I have agreed that we want to proceed collaboratively. What do we do next?
Each of you will need to retain an attorney to represent you who is trained in the Collaborative Divorce Process. You may also want to meet with and decide upon a neutral, collaborative coach who will work with you as part of the Collaborative Divorce team. Once you have retained the attorneys and chosen a coach, the Collaborative
Divorce team will schedule the first meeting at a time that is convenient for you and your spouse.
Where does the first Collaborative Divorce meeting take place?
The first Collaborative Divorce meeting takes place in a conference room at the office of one of the Collaborative Divorce professionals. The members of Gateway to Collaboration have designed their conference rooms and shared common areas to provide a safe, comfortable location for the collaborative divorce meetings.
How will I prepare for the first Collaborative Divorce meeting?(hyperlinks)
You will meet with your Collaborative Divorce attorney and the neutral Collaborative Divorce coach before the first Collaborative Divorce meeting to help you prepare. An agenda is developed in advance of that meeting to identify the issues that will be addressed. You and your Collaborative Divorce attorney will review the agenda, the Participation Agreement and the Ground Rules for the Collaborative Process and discuss any questions or concerns that you may have prior to the first meeting.
What are the Participation Agreement and the Ground Rules for the Collaborative Process? (hyperlinks)
The participation Agreement that you and your spouse sign at the first meeting documents your promise to commit to the requirements of the Collaborative Divorce Process. One of the most important promises is that neither you nor your spouse will use your Collaborative Divorce attorney in litigation if the Collaborative Divorce Process is not successful. Sample Collaborative Divorce participation agreements, with children and without children, can be viewed here.
The Ground Rules for the Collaborative Process are recommendations for conduct as part of the Collaborative Divorce Process. During the first Collaborative Divorce meeting, you and your spouse can adapt the ground rules to reflect conduct that is important to you. A sample of the Ground Rules for the Collaborative Process can be viewed here.
How does the Collaborative Divorce Process move forward after the first meeting?
The Collaborative Divorce Process moves forward based on the following structure:
1. Identify goals and interests;
2. Gather information;
3. Explore options;
4. Test consequences;
5. Reach agreement.
Broad goals and interests are identified at the first meeting that may be revisited and revised as the process moves forward. Usually, the goals and interests become more focused and specific as information is gathered and may be revised, again, before options are explored.
Are other professionals a part of the Collaborative Divorce Process?
A neutral financial professional may be an integral part of the Collaborative Divorce team. A neutral financial professional may be an accountant, a business valuator or a financial investment advisor. The role of the neutral financial professional includes helping to gather information, identifying and determining the value of assets and liabilities, preparing a list of assets and liabilities, calculating net spendable income and developing budgets. A neutral financial professional may assist the spouses, attorneys and coach in exploring options and testing the consequences of the options being considered.
If children are affected by divorce related conflict parents may choose to retain a child specialist. A child specialist is a mental health professional who will meet with the family to offer information, education and recommendations to help to support the children during the divorce process.
What if my spouse and I are only considering a separation and are not ready to divorce?
The Collaborative Divorce Process is appropriate to help a couple reach an interim separation agreement which may resolve issues such as child support, spousal support and custody on a temporary basis.
How long does the Collaborative Divorce Process take?
Each Collaborative Divorce Process is unique to the spouses themselves. Your Collaborative Professional will meet with you to discuss the factors that may affect the pace of your Collaborative Divorce Process The professional members of Gateway to Collaborative concentrate their practices in the Collaborative Divorce Process so their ability to schedule meetings is not hampered by conflicting commitments to court hearings and motions.
What else do I need to know about the Collaborative Divorce Process?
More information about the Collaborative Divorce Process is available on the websites of each of the members of Gateway to Collaboration. Information is also available on the website of The Collaborative Law Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania (CLASP) at www.clasplaw.org and on the website of The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals www.collaborativepractice.com. Any one of the members of Gateway to Collaboration will be happy to answer your questions about the Collaborative Divorce Process. Please contact us with any questions.