March 20, 2015

Tell Me: Why Collaborative?

So, lets start out with the obvious answer; a collaborative divorce is a proactive, humane way to reach a divorce settlement that greatly reduces the emotional trauma a family faces during the divorce process, and the available data indicates that when executed as agreed upon by the divorcing couple and their attorneys, a collaborative settlement can be reached faster than other forms of negotiation. Which in turn lowers the cost of a divorce and helps families preserve assets as they establish new households and new futures.

But the reality is: the collaborative process is not your typical dispute resolution mechanism; at its core, the collaborative process is a set of voluntary ground rules that the couple, their attorneys, and their neutral professionals agree to abide by. These rules are laid out in a document called a Participation Agreement the couple and their collaborative team sign at the start of the collaborative divorce. While the Participation Agreement is composed of a number of sections,  its core is an agreement to resolve issues out of court, to fully disclose all relevant facts and financial information, and to disqualify the attorneys from further representation should the collaborative process fail. The end result is a foundation that enables a couple to safely engage in the complex conversations required.

Layered on top of this is the knowledgeable advice provided by the collaborative team. By working together, the team can help a divorcing couple avoid the pitfalls hidden in the tax code or navigate the regulations governing the division of retirement plans, design developmentally responsive parenting plans or develop ways to rebuild trust and interact with integrity and good faith, to wisely divide their assets so losses are minimized or develop budgets that maximize family income, and above all to understand the law, their rights, their obligations, and the possible effects of their decisions so that every choice is an informed one.

So, let’s revise that obvious answer a bit and say a collaborative divorce is a proactive, humane process that focuses on respectful positive communications that enables a divorce couple to build a future relationship based on requests rather than demands and without the threat of a court battle. It’s the process for the couple who sees value in building new beginnings without undue stress or tension (if you are one of those couples who believe that they can work things out and only hire lawyers if it gets really ugly, the collaborative process might be a good fit for you).

Bruce Cameron
Attorney, Cameron Law, PLLC

Bruce Cameron, JD, MS is a second career attorney, practicing Quaker, and advocate for small town law practices. His solo practice focuses exclusively on collaborative law and mediation with just a soupçon of estate planning for excitement. Bruce believes that alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, like collaborative law and mediation, are powerful positive means to reduce the destructive conflict typical of litigation. He has found that a little peacemaking tends to produce better outcomes for his clients. Learn more at

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