Collaborative Divorce is a newer process for obtaining a divorce, which is a middle ground between mediation and litigation. In collaborative divorce, the parties and the attorneys agree to make the outcome fair to all. The collaborative attorneys perform most if not all of the negotiations.
The one main twist that seperates this from a litigated divorce is that the lawyers agree in advance that if the parties want to litigate the divorce (in the case they cannot come to an agreement), these attorneys will step aside and the process must start over again with new attorneys — with all the costs inherent in that. That’s the “incentive” to reach an agreement.
What are the benefits and disadvantages of this divorce process? It is less costly than a litigated divorce, but more expensive than a mediated divorce. It should have less emotional strains than a litigated divorce since it is supposed to be a non-adversarial process. It may not provide for the catharsis that a mediated divorce can provide. The end divorce is the same as one would get in any of the processes.
Why would someone want to use collaborative divorce over a mediated one? There are two primary reasons. First, if a spouse is uncomfortable sitting in the same room as their soon to be ex. Second, there are many people who do not like to negotiate. These people would benefit from collaborative divorce since the attorneys are doing the direct negotiations (at a higher expense, though).
The AP published a nice article about divorce last month, which you can read in depth here. I will be focusing on the costs study referenced in the article in my next posting.