May 29, 2015

What is a Collaborative Divorce?

72918896-two-figures-held-together-by-hearts-around-gettyimagesCollaborative Divorce was started in Minnesota 25 years ago and has spread to more than 20 countries because it meets two basic needs felt by divorcing couples around the world. What does it mean to say that a divorce is Collaborative?

First, it is important to understand that difference between the formal Collaborative divorce process (with a capital C) and the use of the word collaborative. To be collaborative simply means to work together and, in that sense, any divorce in which people work together could be described as collaborative, (small c). However, the Collaborative divorce process is something distinctly different.

Most people want to keep their divorce amicable, and Collaborative Divorce gives them the tools to work out of court to make that happen. At the same, people facing divorce want to know that they are protected; that they have someone looking out for their interests. Collaborative Divorce provides each party with an attorney who will work with them to help them achieve their most meaningful goals.

In a Collaborative Divorce, the attorneys must withdraw if the matter goes to court in an adversarial proceedings. That is the one rule. A rule that is simple and yet, changes the entire tenor of the divorce negotiation.   It is a great example of addition by subtracting. By subtracting one element, (the ability of the lawyers to fight), a door is opened to add many more valuable tools (true interest based-bargaining, teaming with financial experts and mental health professionals, deeper solutions, etc.). That one change redefines the negotiation and creates a ripple effect that, if handled in a skillful manner, creates many more options.

People sometimes hire aggressive lawyers, reluctantly; believing that their spouse will be aggressive and that they, therefore, need to “fight fire with fire”. The problem, of course, is that fighting fire with fire means there is a great risk that someone (maybe everyone) will get burned.

Collaborative Divorce, with the agreement not to fight, is intended to put out the fire, so that you, and your spouse, can build their future on solid ground.   That is not easy to achieve. It requires skill and commitment. An attorney who cannot use argument and fighting must have other skills. Equally important, clients who intend to achieve their highest goals without fighting must be prepared to work on developing other skills as well.

To learn more about the Collaborative Process and to find experts with skill and experience in this area, go to www.collaborativelaw.org or www.divorcechoice.com.

Ron OuskyABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ron Ousky
Attorney, Ousky Law Firm

Ron Ousky is a Collaborative Attorney and mediator who has worked with divorcing families for thirty years and focuses on helping his clients find better outcomes through Collaborative Practice, mediation and other creative alternatives. Ron is also the co-author of The Collaborative Way to Divorce, and has trained divorce lawyers throughout North America and in Europe. He is also the co-founder of the Collaborative Alliance, an office sharing suite in Edina, that brings lawyers, mental health professionals and financial experts together to find better solutions for families. To learn more about Ron and his practice, go to www.Ousky.com

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