The Collaborative Divorce Process

Not every divorce case will proceed through all tasks.

Click on Tasks or Timeline for each step to show/hide what your Collaborative Team may be working on.


Step 1: Establish a Safe Container for the Collaborative Process

Tasks >

  1. Each party meets individually with their respective Collaborative attorney
    • Discuss roles of other professional members of Collaborative Team
    • Discuss documents that describe the process and the agreements in them that will guide the process
    • Introduce concepts of “Needs and Interests”-based, as opposed to “Positional” negotiations
    • Discuss transparency
    • Discuss the importance of neutrals (the Collaborative Divorce Facilitator (“CDF”) and Financial Neutral
    • Discuss the importance of neutrals (the Collaborative Divorce Facilitator (“CDF”) and Financial Neutral
    • Discuss the concept of operating from one’s “highest self”
  2. Couple meets with full Collaborative team
    • Collaborative framework and road map discussed/clarified
    • Introductions of all team members and their roles in the Collaborative Process
    • Written Collaborative agreements reviewed and signed
    • Funds for payment of Collaborative team professionals discussed and agreed to
    • Pressing concerns identified and addressed
    • Additional Collaborative meetings scheduled
    • Temporary arrangements discussed and agreed upon as needed


  • First meeting between a client and a Collaborative professional for a description of divorce process options
  • Enlist interest of the other party in choosing to use a Collaborative Process
  • Selection of Collaborative professionals to complete the Collaborative Team
  • Schedule initial 6 way meeting
  • Telephone call among the Collaborative professionals to prepare for the first full team meeting
  • Plan and circulate agenda for initial 6-way meeting to full team
  • At the initial 6 way meeting, establish ground rules for safe and respectful discussion for the whole team and designate scrivener to take meeting minutes
  • Work through agenda topics and assign homework for next meetings
  • Schedule subsequent meetings
  • Post-meeting professional team debrief after each full team meeting

  • Step 2: Information Gathering

    TASKS >

    1. Financial Neutral - Gather financial information for marital property and debts:
      • Document assets, debts, incomes, and expenses
      • Document valuations of assets and balances of debt
      • Arrange for valuation of assets where values unknown
      • Document and value separate property
      • Note any outstanding issues, questions, and additional information needed
    2. CDF - Develop emotional background as relevant:
      • Family dynamics
      • Emotional state of each person
      • Help parties identify needs and interests
    3. CDF - Help with development of parenting plan:
      • Identify each party’s traditional involvement with children
      • Identify each party’s interests and needs for time with children going forward
      • Identify each party’s ability to effectively parent and to co-parent Note issues of overlap and issues of disagreement for further work co-parent


    • Typically, three 3-way meetings with Financial Neutral to financial information
    • Typically, three 3-way meetings with CDF to address interests and develop parenting plan
    • Telephone calls and meetings as needed between the Collaborative attorney and client to clarify interests and discuss information generated with Neutrals
    • Financial Neutral and CDF prepare email summaries or schedule full team telephone conferences to discuss progress of their meetings with clients and to identify issues needing further discussion


    Step 3: Review Information and Preferences, Develop Options and Create Final Solution

    Tasks >

    1. Each party’s Collaborative attorney reviews draft Parenting Plan and discussion with client as needed

    2. Discuss unresolved parenting issues and generate options in full team meetings

    3. Negotiate solutions from options presented or others generated through discussion

    4. Review asset and debt spreadsheets prepared by Financial Neutral

    5. Review couple’s estimated future income and expenses based on financial projections

    6. Discuss asset and debt allocations and create options in full team meetings

    7. Negotiate agreements from options

    8. Discuss spousal support

    9. Discuss child support; discuss any extraordinary circumstances relating to children

    10. Resolve support issues and negotiate solutions from options


    • Team professionals’ telephone conference before each full team meeting to prepare agenda, discuss issues, and new developments
    • One or more 6-way meetings for Financial Neutral to present financial reports prepared from financial documentation provided and to discuss allocation of assets and debts (with client input and agreement and dependent on marital estate complexity)
    • One or more 6-way meetings for CDF to present points of parenting plan agreed to, points not yet agreed to, and to generate options to complete plan (with client input and dependent on complexity of issues affecting parenting)
    • One or more 6-way meetings to develop child and spousal support options (with client input and dependent on complexity of issues affecting support issues)
    • Resolve support issues and negotiate permanent resolutions
    • Advance agreement on recording minutes and post-team meeting debriefings after each full team meeting

    Step 4: Memorializing Agreement, Implementation and Final Debriefing

    Tasks >

    1. Draft agreement and ensure couple’s understanding
    2. Circulate drafts to reach agreements on final language
    3. Sign agreements
    4. Prepare and Execute other necessary documents (Petition for Dissolution; Certification of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosures; Sworn Financial Statements (with help of Financial Neutral); Support Orders; Affidavit for Entry of Decree without Appearance in court; Decree)
    5. Implement agreement
      • Court hearing scheduled and attended or affidavit submitted and approved
      • Post-decree preparation of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders
      • Execution of documents to convey title interests
      • Sale of marital residence
      • Completion of obligation to re-finance mortgage
    6. Final team debriefing
    7. Survey the couple as to satisfaction with Collaborative process and identify areas of possible improvement


    • Attorneys prepare Separation Agreement and Parenting Plan and review for agreement on final language
    • Attorneys prepare additional paperwork to be filed with the Court (Non-Appearance Affidavit; Decree; Support Orders; Sworn Financial Statements if not prepared by Financial Neutral; an deeds or title transfer documents)
    • Attorneys arrange for preparation of QDROs if required
    • Attorneys meet with their client to review paperwork
    • Attorneys arrange for execution of paperwork, create implementation, and establish follow-up plans
    • Minutes reflecting implementation and follow-up plan are circulated
    • Attorneys assist parties in carrying out implementation