The Collaborative Process is a form of dispute resolution which focuses on the family’s future with the goal of reaching an out-of-court settlement. The participants commit to resolving their family’s issues without the threat of court litigation. Rather than hiring attorneys whose focus is on “winning at all costs,” the participants hire attorneys specially trained in Collaborative Practice whose purpose is to negotiate with one another respectfully and with a team approach. The parties share a common goal of settling their differences out of court, resulting in signing a comprehensive marital settlement agreement and taking their divorce to court for a simple uncontested hearing. The collaborative attorneys may not represent the clients in any contested court proceedings, and so a level of trust can be established among the participants.
In addition to the collaboratively trained attorneys, the parties also secure the services of a mental health professional (divorce coach) who assists the clients with their communications, emotions, and child-related matters during the collaborative process. If the parties require an analysis of their respective financial situations, a neutral financial professional may be retained to assist with collecting financial information regarding income, expenses, assets, and liabilities and can assist them in looking forward to what their financial picture will be after the divorce process is completed. The couple, their attorneys, and the additional professionals who are hired are regarded as a team who share the common goal of assisting the separating couple in working through legal, financial, and emotional issues to obtain a settlement that is successful for all members of the family.