We thought it would be helpful to do a two-part blog post on the steps to a collaborative divorce.  A sort of road map, if you will.  Sometimes, we get in our own way by holding off on making an important decision simply because we don’t take that first step.  It might be lack of understanding or information holding us back, or fear of the unknown, or in the case of divorce, not wanting to face the demise of the marriage.

The collaborative road map is simply that:  a plan that gets you and your family from here to there.  It’s the beginning of a new phase in all of your lives.  Here are the first few steps:

1.  Establish a Safe Collaborative Container and Decide Temporary Arrangements. Each of you will meet separately with your respective Collaborative attorney to begin developing a relationship of trust and to understand the specific requirements of the Collaborative process.   A meeting is then scheduled with the couple and all the Collaborative professionals to be engaged. At that meeting, the Collaborative professionals and the couple introduce themselves and the Collaborative divorce process options are reviewed.

  • A typical road map through the Collaborative process and the roles of the Collaborative professionals are clarified and any concerns of the couple are addressed.
  • The couple commits to the Collaborative process, reviews and signs the participation agreements and funds the retainers of the professionals.
  • Each spouse reviews and signs the retention agreement with his or her Collaborative attorney and both spouses review and sign the retention agreements of the neutral professionals.
  • All anticipated Collaborative meetings are scheduled if possible and any necessary temporary arrangements are discussed and established.

2. Gather and Document Background, Information and Preferences.  Financial information relating to assets, debt, income and expenses is gathered, documented, valued as needed and the couple’s preferences in division are discussed and noted.  Unresolved issues are identified. The non-financial information is developed and the couple’s interests and initial parenting plan preferences are discussed and noted. Unresolved issues are identified.

Read even more about Step 1 and Step 2.  These first two steps prove hugely important as the safe collaborative container is established, and the collaborative team is identified.  In addition, important information gathering takes place, which gets things like finances, assets and debts out in the open.  Family dynamics are explored, and a parenting plan is hatched.