Collaborative divorce allows divorcing couples to resolve their conflicts directly and out of court. At the heart of the collaborative divorce process is a commitment made between both clients and their respective collaborative counsel not to participate in divorce litigation. Collaborative counsel guides the process to ensure that both clients are empowered to make informed choices with all essential information, including the same facts, legal advice, knowledge of the other parties’ interests, and all potential options for resolution. The clients then make their own decisions regarding their parenting plan and financial settlement.
Every divorce is different, and so too are the needs and interests of those involved. The collaborative divorce process recognizes this by providing customized professional legal, financial and emotional support. Clients are able to tailor the outcome of their case while preserving their privacy, dignity, and parenting relationships. The collaborative divorce process is the best way to create durable resolutions and a functional post-divorce environment.
Who should be interested in collaborative divorce?
Divorcing couples should explore the collaborative divorce option if any of the following statements apply:
- You desire to protect your children from the harmful effects of a high conflict dispute.
- You prefer to keep private financial and business matters out of the public domain.
- You wish to retain control of your matter, instead of ceding control to the Court system.
- You want to maintain an atmosphere of fair play and respect, even in areas where there may be initial disagreement.
- You see value in discussing and weighing each party’s needs.
- You are ready to put aside the pain of the moment to plan for a better future.
- You prefer to work in a creative, customized environment that encourages joint problem-solving to maximize mutual benefits.
How does a collaborative divorce work?
In a collaborative divorce, the parties and their collaborative counsel launch the process by joining in a written commitment to negotiate a settlement, through a series of planned team meetings, without resorting to litigation. The parties and their collaborative counsel will then work together to tailor the process to address the specific needs and issues at hand. Honoring their collaborative commitment, the participants then engage actively in problem-solving using an interest-based negotiation model with essentially four steps:
- Transparent and voluntary exchange of facts and information
- Identification and mutual disclosure of interests and values
- Generation/creation of all available options
- Mutual assessment of options to find areas of mutual benefit and full resolution
Ohio Collaborative Family Law Act
Brian Urban was part of a three-lawyer collaborative law task force on behalf of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Subcommittee on Alternative Dispute Resolution Options. Over five years of effort culminated in passage of the Ohio Collaborative Family Law Act in December, 2012.
With the passage of the Ohio Collaborative Family Law Act, the State of Ohio:
- Recognizes collaborative process as a constructive, viable alternative for couples facing divorce.
- Defines by statute the essential characteristics of a collaborative law process.
- Creates a far safer space than litigation for exploring possible win-win outcomes, by bestowing a statutory privilege upon the collaborative process.