Click on each question to reveal the answer.
Q1. Where do I find a Collaborative Professional?
CCDP Members, who are Collaborative Professionals, would be happy to discuss your case. Please look for Collaborative Professionals who can potentially become members of your Collaborative team on our Locate a Professional Pages.
Q2. What is the difference between Collaborative Law and Mediation?
Mediation is a dispute resolution process in which a neutral third party assists parties to a dispute. Parties may or may not attend mediation with a lawyer to help them reach agreements. The mediator may be an attorney or other professional trained in conflict resolution. A mediator may be able to provide legal information, such as what documents the Court needs, or what happens at various stages of the divorce process, but cannot advise either party as to what is in his or her best legal interests. A mediator can reduce agreements parties reach to writing, but the mediator cannot file those agreements in court or submit all of the documents required by a court for completion of a divorce action. A mediator has no authority to make decisions on issues parties dispute.
Collaborative Law is a process for handling divorce and other family law issues outside of a court-based process in the context of a six-person team. The first two team members are the parties themselves, who are each represented by their own Collaboratively trained family law attorney. One Financial Neutral works for both parties on the myriad financial issues related to divorce, and the final team member is a Collaborative Divorce Facilitator (“CDF”). The CDF performs many of the functions of a mediator, by, for instance, regulating communications between parties to the end of helping them make decisions.
Q3. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE FACILITATOR AND A THERAPIST?
Collaborative Divorce Facilitators (CDFs) can have a variety of backgrounds. They can be licensed mental health professionals such as psychologists, counselors, or social workers, or lawyers who have specific training to enhance parties’ listening and communication during a Collaborative process. The CDF, like all professionals in the Collaborative process, works confidentially, meaning that the CDF will never be required to testify in court if the case does not settle. The CDF works with each party as well as each party’s attorney, so that productive conversation can take place at scheduled full team meetings. A CDF may also work on communication issues, with one or both parties, outside of full team meetings so that when the full team does meet, those meetings can be more productive. In none of these functions is the CDF doing therapy.
Q4. Why should I include a CDF on my team?
The Collaborative approach uses face to face meetings with spouses, each with their own Collaboratively trained attorney present. Couples can be entrenched in long-established patterns of ineffective communication that, coupled with the stress and emotionality (anger, grief, worry) common at the time of a divorce, impede problem-solving. The CDF can identify when emotions, often related to a party’s important underlying needs, and/or old communication patterns are getting in the way of productive discussion and blocking productive problem-solving at team meetings. The CDF can help improve parties’ communication skills and help them learn better ways to handle difficult conversations.
Because communication issues can be dealt with between the CDF and one or both parties outside of full team meetings, the expense of the lawyers’ and the Financial Neutral’s presence at those sessions is eliminated. When more productive communication takes place at team meetings, more issues can be resolved, requiring fewer meetings, resulting in cost savings. Improved communications skills gained during the Collaborative process and carried forward after the formal part of the process ends enable parties to resolve issues for themselves that arise post-divorce, without having to resort to attorneys and further legal processes in the futures.
Q5. Why should I include a Child Specialist on my team?
For parents of children under the age of 19, the law requires parents to develop a Parenting Plan. That Plan requires agreement on a schedule when children will be in the care of each parent and procedures for making decisions about children’s education, health, and other major issues. Often parents differ as to what each believes is best for their children. Making agreements on these points during a highly charged emotional time can be difficult. A child specialist can provide both parents with insights into the developmental needs of their children at differing ages. The child specialist can meet with parents, as well as with their children, if that is needed and agreed to. The child specialist can be an informed, neutral, non-judgmental voice to help parents reach agreements on what is in their childrens’s best interests, and help all family members make the transition from one to two households.
Q6. Why should I include a Financial Neutral on my team?
A Financial Neutral serves many purposes in the Collaborative process. The Financial Neutral works with each party individually and with both together, to gather financial information, analyze current and develop future budgets, and identify divorce-related tax issues. The Financial Neutral works with both parties so that they can decide the most effective way to divide their assets and debts. The Financial Neutral can help the parties complete their Sworn Financial Statements and perform all of the financial documentation gathering and mandatory financial disclosure that would otherwise be done for each party by their own attorney. The hourly rate of the Financial Neutral is frequently lower than the hourly rate of attorneys, and paying one Financial Neutral rather than two attorneys for much of the financial fact-gathering and financial document preparation required results in significant cost savings for that part of the case.
Q7. Is the Team approach more expensive?
Although the team approach requires hiring professionals for the Collaborative team at the outset, it is often cost-effective for parties who would be hiring divorce lawyers in any event, and pursuing divorce on a traditional, litigation-based model.
The Financial Neutral and Collaborative Divorce Facilitator (“CDF”) generally charge at a lower hourly rate than attorneys. The Financial Neutral reduces the number of hours attorneys would otherwise spend on financial data gathering, organizing and analysis of financial information that is required at the beginning of every divorce case. By identifying emotional impediments and dealing with them outside of the full team meeting context, CDFs can enhance parties’ communication skills to make team meetings more productive. With productive meetings, agreements can be reached sooner, shortening the process to reduce the overall cost. Likewise, working out the details for shared parenting can be one of the most difficult aspects of a divorce. If the CDF, working either with or without the input of a child specialist, can work out a parenting plan, emotional as well as financial costs can be saved. It is impossible to know what “the same case” would cost to resolve on a litigated as opposed to on the Collaborative Model.
In the Collaborative Model, parties can control the number of issues requiring discussion at full team meetings, and thus, the number of meetings required to resolve them. Equally, if not more, importantly, the Collaborative process, which builds on productive communication between parties, exacts fewer emotional costs during the divorce process, and reduces the likelihood that parties will go to court post-divorce, saving thousands of dollars on post-dissolution court proceedings.
Q8. How do I talk to my spouse about Collaborative Divorce?
Inform yourself about the process and identify why it is attractive to you. In addition to reading about the Collaborative Divorce Model, you can brainstorm with your Collaboratively trained attorney about options for informing your spouse. Read More
Q9. How do I select a divorce attorney?
Q10. How quickly can I get divorced on the Collaborative Model?
Spouses largely determine how quickly their cases can resolve on the Collaborative Model. How long a particular case takes depends on the complexity of the issues that are in dispute, how available the spouses are to gather the required factual information, meet with the Financial Neutral and CDF, and to attend full team meetings to negotiate agreements. It can be considerably quicker than a traditionally litigated divorce or it can go more slowly if the situation calls for it. For example, sometimes parents wish to try a particular parenting time schedule for their children before agreeing to adopt it permanently. Complex valuation issues, to value businesses for example, can slow the Collaborative process just as they would a litigated divorce. Similarly, strong disagreements about what parenting plan is in children’s best interests will slow the divorce process whether litigated or on the Collaborative Model.
Q11. CAN THE COLLABORATIVE APPROACH WORK WHEN EMOTIONS ARE INTENSE AND EVEN HOSTILE?
Divorcing or working through other family law disputes on the Collaborative Model is not easy but it can ameliorate much of the strain and miscommunication attendant to litigated divorces when parties are not negotiating agreements with each other directly. The Collaborative Model creates a respectful environment utilizing professionals trained to address emotions thoughtfully and in a manner that does not add fuel to the fire. Clients are supported in both speaking and listening to each other respectfully and in a non-adversarial manner, identifying what their interests are, and working positively toward achieve them. The directness of communications in meetings and the fact that a client’s questions and concerns are voiced often reduces the level of mistrust, misunderstanding, and conflict parties may have been living with for weeks, months, or longer.
However, there are situations where one or both parties have become unable to trust what the other says, and/or where emotions are too intense and the level of hostility too great for productive communication to occur even with the support of trained Collaborative professionals helping to structure and facilitate face-to- face discussions. Experienced Collaborative professionals screen parties and will suggest alternative modes for divorcing or resolving other family law disputes in cases they deem unlikely to succeed on the Collaborative Model.
Q12. How can I maintain my privacy during my divorce?
Traditionally litigated divorces frequently start with the filing of documents announcing that parties are divorcing. Collaborative divorce can help maintain privacy throughout the your divorce by minimizing parties’ contact with courts.
A Divorce can be a Very Public Event Hearings and trials are generally open to the public – anyone can go into a courtroom, take a seat on its benches, and watch the proceedings.
Almost everyone has an interest in keeping some information out of the public eye. Details about people’s personal lives, habits, health, finances, and relationships are generally considered personal. Frequently business executives and professionals do not want friends, relatives, or competitors to know details about their businesses or professions. Sometimes, the threat of making private information open to the public becomes a coercive weapon.
Collaborative Divorce is Private Protecting privacy is one of the most important advantages of divorcing on the Collaborative Model. Papers filed in divorce cases generally are not open to the public, and because there are no court hearings on the Collaborative Model, third parties cannot hear testimony from witnesses testifying in open court proceedings.
Q13. How can I minimize the effects of our divorce on our children?
Perhaps the single most important factor in determining how your children adjust to divorce is how their parents interact. There are ways to effectively parent during and after your divorce. Read More
Q14. How do I cope during my divorce?
During divorce, it is essential to acknowledge your emotions and manage your feelings in a way that helps you make smart decisions to preserve important relationships, your own wellbeing, and your children’s sense of security. This section of divorce information provides tips and strategies for managing stress and coping with your divorce.Read More
Q15. WHAT OTHER BENEFITS CAN I EXPECT FROM THE COLLABORATIVE APPROACH?
The Collaborative Model is a private process; the court file will consist only of the documents required for a divorce. Motions will not be filed and discovery will not be sought, so that a minimal amount of your personal information will be submitted to the court. An agreement crafted through open negotiation, consideration of each spouse’s interests, and compromise, with each spouse having a full understanding of what was agreed to and why, tends to result in less post-divorce conflict, and far less likelihood of resorting to litigation if and when disputes do arise later.
Q16. How do I get started?
Reviewing the information on this website is a good beginning.
CCDP Members, who are Collaborative Professionals, would be happy to discuss your case and whether your family would benefit by resolving your family law issues on the Collaborative Model. Please look for Collaborative Professionals who can potentially become members of your Collaborative team on our Locate a Professional Pages.
Q17. Life During and After Divorce
The end of a marriage represents not only loss, but also new beginnings. If you are newly divorced, a lot more than your marital status has probably changed. This is a time to take stock of where you are and how you would like to move forward. Click here for strategies for moving forward with life during and after divorce.
Q18. I would like to join CCDP as a professional. How do I do that?
Please look at our Membership Information Page, and fill in the information requested. You may pay by credit card directly on that page. To pay by check, please send payment, made out to CCDP, at PO Box 12469, Denver CO, 80212.