Thoughts on Collaborative Divorce

Having a trial is a way, but not the only way to resolve your case. There are many tools available for resolving your case other than a trial. Good family law lawyers are problem solvers, and the good ones recommend that their clients try to resolve their disputes outside the courtroom. Many jurisdictions have mandatory mediation (without lawyers) for parenting time and custody issues. Many good lawyers recommend their clients use private (for a fee) attorney guided mediation for property and custody and parenting time issues. Many participate in judicial settlement conferences where a judge attempts to guide the parties towards a cooperative resolution. If successful, the benefit of these tools to the client is usually lower cost, less conflict, and an agreement they chose, rather than having a judge tell them what the result is.

Some specially trained lawyers are using a new process called “Collaborative Divorce” designed to keep clients out of the courthouse from the beginning. Collaborative Divorce is a non-litigious party based settlement process in which a husband and wife or domestic partners work together to dissolve their relationship. The process can result in less cost, stress and judicial involvement than a litigated divorce or domestic partnership dissolution. The main idea is for the parties to work together to end their relationship in a manner which allows for each party to be self-sustaining financially and that serves the best interest of their child.

In a Collaborative Divorce case, the parties use a team of professionals to work on specific areas of their case. For example, if a child is involved, then the parties would have a child specialist on their team. In all cases, a financial specialist trained specifically in divorce finance and a mental health practitioner will be used. One benefit of the collaborative divorce process is that it can produce much more creative methods of property division and spousal/child support than a judge in a litigated case would order.

At the beginning of the case, the parties sign a collaborative practice agreement or participation agreement, which outlines the essential principles of the collaborative process. The agreement limits the parties’ attorney-client confidentiality and sets forth the rule that if the collaborative process is unsuccessful, then all of the professionals involved in the case, including both parties’ lawyers, will no longer work on the case. In addition, any materials or information produced in the process will not be admissible in court.

This process is very popular in Canada, Australia, and in some states in the US. It has not taken off yet in Oregon at a substantial level. There are, however, a number of collaboratively trained lawyers and team professionals in the Portland area. This is a growing field, and something to seriously consider if both you and your spouse wish to avoid the expense, stress, and frustration of traditional, adversarial litigation. Our office maintains a list of family law lawyers trained in the collaborative process.

About Daniel Margolin

Daniel Margolin is a founding partner of Stephens & Margolin LLP and a Portland, Oregon native. His practice focuses on all aspects of family law litigation. Dan applies his litigation expertise to provide additional expertise when assisting clients with Family Law Appeals and Collaborative Divorce matters. To find out more or contact Daniel Margolin, visit Stephens & Margolin LLP
This entry was posted in Divorce and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Thoughts on Collaborative Divorce

  1. Vern says:

    I’d think that, given the opportunity, everyone would use a process like collaborative divorce or mediation to settle their split. I find it odd that some areas are so much more inclined to think progressively about their options. In the case of Oregon, I suppose it’s possible that the divorce rates are a lot lower, but here in Arizona mediation has been used extensively for years and collaborative processes are becoming extremely common. I don’t know the stats, but I’m guess AZ ranks up there in divorce numbers, which probably has a lot to say about why so many options are available here.

  2. Adamjoselin says:

    The collaborative divorce process relies on a group of professionals who guide the divorcing couple to a satisfactory agreement. Collaborative divorce is a relatively new option for couples that have made the painful decision to divorce. It also a healthy transition from the negative intimacy that has caused by the deterioration of the marriage to a positive working relationship.

    Nobsdivorceadviceguide – Divorce,advice guide,divorce advice,financial future,couples

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *